In only a few days, we have not only a Harvest Moon but a Harvest Moon that falls on Friday the 13th. The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox. It's recognized and revered globally as a reminder for the approaching change in season and coming harvest.
Friday the 13th, however, is the leader of all things superstition in the Western world. For such a deep-rooted fear of this seemingly unlucky day, it's surprising that nobody can pinpoint where it comes from and why it is so widespread. We at least know that it starts with fear around the number thirteen. There's even a fancy name for it: triskaidekaphobia. Some of the most famous historical figures such as Churchill, Roosevelt and even Napoleon were plagued with this superstition. In fact, Christopher Columbus was on that list, too. In the '50s, The Columbiana, a group of Italian Columbus experts, found that he actually landed in the Western Hemisphere on October 13th, 1492 and changed the date to the 12th to avoid such a bad omen.
With thirteen steps to the gallows, thirteen turns in the hangman's noose and the number of the Death card in Tarot, there's plenty of reasons that people place so much fear in the number. Though there's no 'tell-all' for why you should fear the 6th day of the week paired with the 13th day of the month, it's said that the modern basis for the superstition *probably* has something to do with October 13, 1307. In a time where everyone who was anyone was either torturing or being tortured until you admitted or committed heresy, the Knights Templar were known to be the good guys. It was on this day, that the Pope of the Catholic Church and the King of France (I'm lookin' at you Clement V and Philip IV) rounded up the Knights Templar to be burned alive while their leader was crucified. Ah, the Middle Ages.
Then, of course, the two most notorious stories are the Last Supper and a Valhalla dinner party. What do the two have in common with bad omens? Quite a lot, actually. It's said that either Judas or Jesus was the last to arrive at the Last Supper, making it thirteen guests. Jesus was crucified the very next day, a Friday, and I don't think I need to explain why everyone hates Judas. In Norse lore, it says that evil and mischief were first introduced to the world by the unexpected arrival of Loki. He was also the thirteenth guest, upsetting the balance of the twelve Gods already in attendance.
In numerology, the number 12 is considered to be a number of completeness; with 12 months in a year, 12 hours in a day followed by 12 hours of night, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 branches on the Kabbalah, 12 tribes of Israel etc. So, it's not hard to see why it's a sacred number. Because of this, 13 came to be seen as imbalanced and cursed. Combine that with a Friday, the 6th day, and you've got a whole mess of misfortune.
Or do you?
Back in the 1800's, a man by the name of William Fowler, set up a jolly ol' supper club that had it out for bad luck. It was called the Thirteen Club. On Friday, January 13th, 1882, at 8:13 in the evening, 13 men met for a 13-course-dinner (yum), wearing all black as they walked under ladders before sitting down to eat in room no. 13. The supper room was decorated with open umbrellas, food made to look like coffins and cakes shaped like black cats. On the table, there was a banner that read ’Nos Mortituri te Salutamus‘—Latin for “We who are about to die salute you.” They would smash mirrors, be sure to spill salt which would under no circumstance be tossed over the shoulder and wouldn't dare knock on wood.
The original group boasted five presidents, remained in "good health" and continued gathering to provoke superstitions and congratulate themselves on not dying.