It’s that time of year again! Time to get spooked! This October we are graced not only by Halloween but also a Friday the 13th. As these days approach you may be wondering what the deal is with these days. Because it arrives first, let’s begin with Friday the 13th.
To begin, there are many reasons why 13 itself is considered an unlucky number. Many consider the fact that a lot of western organization falls in groups of twelve. Take the months in a year, or the 12 days of Christmas. In a sense, the addition of 1 to get to 13 is unnatural and weird. There are also ties to religion and mythology. In both Norse mythology and Christianity, there are depictions of groups of 13 (the last supper for example) in which negative events soon followed. The same religious reasoning is what also originally denoted Friday as an unlucky day, as it is the day Jesus was crucified as well as inferred as the day that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. The two of these together for a fearsome pair, especially in the already frightening month of October. Though, it isn’t all bad. Choosing to take a risk and fly, or planning events like a wedding for a Friday the 13th can save you a lot of money, as many people are scared of the implications of doing such things on such a haunted day.
On a more tangible side, for our nonbelievers, Jane Risen, who is a behavioral scientist at the University of Chicago suggests that simply because the superstition exists, people change their behavior for the day. She also adds that this applies to both traditional believers and nonbelievers of superstitions. Her concept is basically that because Friday the 13th exists as a societal concept, negative outcomes are more expected and thus occur more on these days. In a sense, entertaining the idea that bad luck is more common on Friday the 13th, alters your perception and you notice the negative things more often. She also adds that this works in reverse. Crossing your fingers or knocking on wood to dispell bad luck will cause you to notice your good luck more and skew your perspective in the other direction. So whether there truly is such a thing as bad luck, or if it is all just perspective, is up for you to decide.
Moving to the end of the month, Halloween itself has a really interesting history. Halloween started as a Celtic celebration, in which they believed that October 31st was the start of the new year and a time where the boundaries of the living and the dead were blurred. The Celts would celebrate with costumes, bonfires, and sacrifices to their deities. The traditions made their way through control by Romans and eventually were converted into a more Christian-positive holiday (all saints day) by the church. With the colonization, Halloween didn’t begin to thrive until the mass of Irish immigrants brought it over while trying to escape the potato famine. In the 1800s, there were movements to make Halloween more about the community as opposed to witchcraft and ghosts. This caused the holiday to become more secular and eventually evolve into the free candy day we all know and love.
As October continues, make sure to keep an eye out as The Performer continues with updates on the spooky celebration as well as our spirit week!