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Friday the 13th, Norse Mythology, and Triskaidekaphobia

In case you were wondering, triskaidekaphobia is the “fear of the number 13” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Triskaidekaphobes beware! It’s Friday the 13th.

In October, no less.

In case you were wondering, triskaidekaphobia is the “fear of the number 13” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The word first appeared in print sometime in the late 1800s. No one is really sure if it was used prior to that, but someone came up with it. And some doctor diagnosed it.

It’s an honest-to-goodness phobia. Triskaidekaphobes will not fly on a Friday the 13th, buy a house, sign a contract…get out of bed…you get the idea. Their fear is as real as any other type of phobia and they suffer physical symptoms from it. But the average person – non-triskaidekaphobes – may not really understand why we “fear” Friday the 13th.

Maybe it was due to trauma as a kid after watching the horror movie of the same name. Hey, if some murderer was chasing me wearing a hockey mask, I’d hate the date too. And Crystal Lake. And slasher movies.

Personally, Friday the 13th is usually a good day for me and I liked the movies. Just sayin’…

Friday the 13th actually got a bad rap thanks to some ancient history and people perpetrating the stories and myths. There are usually 13 people doing something on a Friday that ends with some disaster…death…bad thing happening. Most of us have probably heard the correlation between the Last Supper and Friday the 13th.  It happened on a Friday, Jesus was eating dinner with his 12 disciples when Judas Iscariot walked in, making him number 13. We know how that turned out.

The story I found even more interesting was the Death of Baldur. Baldur was the son of the Norse God Odin and the goddess, Frigg. He was well loved among all the Norse gods and when he started having prophetic dreams about something misfortunate happening to him during a feast where he was the guest of honor, Odin jumped in to find out what was going on. He took a ride to the underworld to consult a dead seeress to see if there was something to his son’s dreams. There was. Odin told everyone what the seeress had said and Frigg, determined to protect her son, had everything in the entire universe swear an oath that they wouldn’t hurt Baldur. All the other gods made great sport of these oaths and tried to hurt Baldur, to no avail.

In walks Loki.

You knew that was coming, right? Saw that from a mile away? Pictured Tom Hiddleston in his full Loki garb complete with a snarky grin?

Yeah.

Loki, ever looking for mischief and trouble, went to Frigg and asked her if everything swore an oath to keep Baldur from harm. She told him, “Everything except the mistletoe. But the mistletoe is so small and innocent a thing that I felt it superfluous to ask it for an oath. What harm could it do to my son?”

What harm indeed.

Loki sensed an opportunity to cause some havoc and approached the blind god Hodr with some mistletoe, watching as the other gods merrily tormented Baldur. He tricked Hodr – which, by the way, means “slayer” in Old Norse – into tossing the mistletoe at Baldur in an effort to give Odin’s son a chance to show him his invincibility. Loki even guided Hodr’s hand and the mistletoe hit Baldur.

Baldur dropped dead and the gods trembled with dear knowing that this was the first sign of Ragnorak.

So, let’s look at this. We have a feast. We have 12 gods/goddesses engaging in revelry. Loki walks in. Number 13. Boom. Someone dies.

No wonder Friday the 13th gets a bad rap.

Probably a good thing Marvel didn’t release Thor: Ragnorak today. Might’ve been a bit…prophetic?

May you safely get to midnight, Triskaidekaphobes.

Beth

References:
https://norse-mythology.org/tales/the-death-of-baldur/
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/02/0212_040212_friday13_2.html
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/triskaidekaphobia

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