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Friday the Thirteenth

13Today is Friday 13th, and I’m embarking on a train journey, alone, to spend a weekend writing and editing without interruption. And maybe I’ll find time for a lie in, or a manicure, if I’m lucky.

Now, despite my ongoing fascination with all things superstition, folklore and mythological, I’m not actually a superstitious person – hence actually undertaking the journey. But even I thought twice about whether I really wanted to travel on such an unlucky day. The inauspiciousness of Friday 13th is so ingrained in the common consciousness, I could hardly avoid a twinge of growing superstition.

The only way to counter such burgeoning fear, I decided, was with research and logic. So I turned to the ever informative Steve Roud to find out why Friday 13th is considered so unlucky.

The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland by Steve Roud is a fascinating read, and is particularly helpful on the matter at hand. For a start, it told me that even though fear of Friday 13th is one of Britain’s most widely believed superstitions, it’s actually quite a new one – with no record of it before Victorian times. Obviously rubbish, then. Those Victorians were always making nonsense like this up.

Of course, it did go on to say that it probably grew out of two much older traditions. The only example of thirteen being an unlucky number to date back to before 1852 is the notion that having thirteen people sit down to table means that one of them will die within the year. (In my family, this was always ‘the first to rise will die’ but this might have come from an Agatha Christie novel, rather than being handed down through the generations.) Anyway, I wasn’t planning on holding any dinner parties on the train, so I wasn’t too worried about this one.

The second tradition that feeds into the Friday 13th fear is a little more alarming, though.

The book says, “Across the whole British Isles, Friday has long had the reputation of being the unluckiest day of the week.” Really? Really?   

I always thought Fridays were about celebrating the weekend, eating pizza and maybe going to the pub. Apparently not.

It seems there’s a whole raft of things you’re not supposed to do on a Friday – including embarking on any sort of journey, enterprise or job. Oh, and you’re not supposed to cut your fingernails on a Friday. Curses.

It wasn’t looking good for my trip, I had to admit.

But I did find some good superstitions connected with Fridays. Apparently, it’s the best day of the week for dreaming:

Friday’s dream on Saturday told

Is sure to come true, be it never so old.

It’s also a particularly good day for love divination dreams. So I figure, maybe I’ll spend the weekend catching up on my sleep. And if I’m lucky, I might dream the hero for my next novel…

Flickr Photo Credit: Cappellmeister 

2 thoughts on “Friday the Thirteenth

  1. Noodles says:

    I found that Friday is a very inauspicious day for changing a password because come Monday its probable that you won’t remember what it was. Hope your weekend is super productive Friday the 13th or not. 🙂

    • Sophie Pembroke says:

      Very true! And it was pretty productive in the end, which is just as well, as the line edits for Room for Love have just landed on my desk and need to be back by Sunday… Hope Friday the 13th was good to you too.

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