Friday the Thirteenth
We humans have a long history of superstitions. In centuries past, for example, comets were seen as omens of death and mayhem, even though they’re nothing more than puffy balls of gas and dust. And even today, people have superstitious fears of everything from broken mirrors to black cats.
The list includes the number 13 — especially when the 13th day of the month happens to fall on a Friday, as it does today. Yet there's no reason to dislike Friday the thirteenth. It’s no more hazardous than, say, Monday the seventh, Sunday the 30th, or Friday the fourteenth.
Much of the fear of Friday the thirteenth appears to arise from the mythology of Scandinavia.
First comes the fear of the number 13. According to one tale, 12 Norse gods held a banquet at Valhalla. A thirteenth god — Loki, the spirit of evil — tried to attend, too, and a battle ensued. The most popular god was killed in the fighting.
Now for the Friday part. The day is named for Freya, the Norse goddess of love. Mythology says that when Norse tribes converted to Christianity, Freya was called a witch and banished to a mountaintop. There, every Friday, she hosted a coven of 11 other witches plus the devil — 13 in all — to plot vengeance against her former believers.
But scientific studies show that there’s nothing to fear on Friday the 13th. There are no more car wrecks or plane crashes or storms on this day than any other day. It’s simply a day with a storied past.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2013
For more skywatching tips, astronomy news, and much more, read StarDate magazine.