It's Friday 13th today so I had to find out something about the superstition associated with Black Friday. There's even a word to describe the reaction to it - Paraskevidekatriaphobics — people afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th.
There's loads of stuff on the net about superstitions, including -
The Egyptians at the time of the pharoahs considered 13 lucky, because they believed life unfolded in 12 stages, and that there was a 13th stage-the afterlife-beyond. That meant the number 13 symbolized death-as a happy transformation. Egyptian civilization perished, but the symbolism of the number 13 lived on as fear of death. (In Tarot decks the "Death" card bears the number 13 but retains its original, positive meaning: transformation.)
I like the stuff I read on beliefnet.com. Extract follows -
"Many people consider Friday unlucky because that's the day of Jesus' Crucifixion, but historians believe the superstition goes much farther back and has something to do with the sacrifices offered to the goddess Frigg (goddess of marriage and fertility) or Freya (goddess of sex and fertility) or both, in Norse mythology.
Frigg/Freya's emblem was the fish, which was associated with the worship of love and was offered by the Scandinavians to their goddess on the sixth day of the week, Friday. But the worship of love on Fridays, according to Popular Superstitions, developed into "a series of filthy and indecent rites and practices."
According to Emery, Friday was considered lucky, especially as a day to get married, because of its associations with love. In other pagan cultures, Friday was the sabbath, a day of worship. Once Christianity entered the scene, Freya-whose sacred animal was a cat--was recast in folklore as a witch. In the Middle Ages, Friday was known as the "Witches' Sabbath."
Later, early Christians began attributing just about everything terrible to Friday: Eve offering Adam the apple in the Garden of Eden; Abel's murder by his brother, Cain; St. Stephen's stoning; the Massacre of the Innocents by Herod; the flight of the children of Israel through the Red Sea; the Great Flood; the destruction of the Temple of Solomon; and the Confusion of Tongues at the Tower of Babel.
Which brings us to.
Superstitions about Friday the 13th
Add it up, and Friday the 13th is clearly doomed as a bad luck kinda day.
Most historians believe the main reason--in addition to all the gloom and doom you just read above--stems from the Last Supper. Jesus and his 12 disciples gathered in the Upper Room, where Jesus predicted that one of them would betray him. Here is how Jesus' words are portrayed in the Gospel: "Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot . . for he it was that should betray him." (John 6: 70-71)
And that scene, of course, set the stage for the Crucifixion, on Good Friday.
Some sources add an additional wrinkle, however. They pinpoint the origin of Friday the 13th-phobia to a specific historical event: the rounding up of the Knights Templar for torture and execution by King Philip IV of France on Friday, October 13, 1307.
Read and weep. Shiver with fear. Dive for cover."
Page to follow (complete with black cat)