Friday the 13th has always been associated to bad luck and mainly because of the number. There are several stories related to the origin of this superstition: some pagan, other from France with the templars, other christian related to Jesus death and the last supper. What is certain is that as soon as it is Friday the 13th, the best is to knock on the wood three times, just in case. In Portugal we have this superstition, and it is celebrated in a land somewhere lost in the deep north of Portugal. Its name is Montalegre and it has become a very popular destination on every Friday the 13th. Here we always find a reason to celebrate anything, even days that might give us bad luck.
Friday the 13th? It is better not to leave home and come across with a black cat. Certainly we don’t follow none of these superstitions, since today is another walking tour with Fora da Rota Tours with no incidents and with good vibes. Besides that, our mascot is a black cat.
But do you know the origin of the superstition related to Friday the 13th? There are several stories related to this number. It comes after number 12, a perfect number. We have the 12 months, the 12 signs of the zodiac, the 12 apostles of Jesus and, after 12 comes the 13 to ruin the counting. That’s what happened to the last supper and then we became superstitious when we have 13 on a meeting or at dinner.
It is also told that the origin of this superstition came on 13th October of 1307, a doomed day for the Order of the Templar which was considered illegal by the French king Philippe IV. Many of the templars were tortured and killed and the legend tells that one of them cursed the king and the pope who died the next year.
We also have a legend that comes with the northern gods: 12 gods were invited for a banquet leaving behind Loki, the evil spirit, who then appeared at the party uninvited, making a fuss and ending up killing Balder, the favourite of the gods. The lesson we learn from this: organize a party with 13 people might not be a good idea. Better 14 and perhaps it is convenient not forgetting anyone in the invitation list, mainly those with a Loki temper
In Portugal the superstition of Friday the 13th is celebrated with a big event in Montalegre, a small town situated in the north, very closed to the Spanish border, in the hilly region of Trás-os-Montes. These celebrations have become so famous that have put this remote town on the map. And all this thanks to the catholic priest Fontes, man who has dedicated his life to the study of alternative medicine and pagan cults. On this same region this priest has been the main promoter for the Congress of Traditional Medicine in Vilar de Perdizes, since 1983 and the festivity of Friday the 13th in Montalegre since 2002. Both events have been the main boosters for the Tourism in this region, attracting thousands of people. And it is for no coincidence. The region of Trás-os-Montes is beautiful and has many stories, legends and myths influenced by the Celtics and many of these pagan rituals are still strongly part of their culture.
At this Friday night in Montalegre, the witches are out on the streets and many of these stories and legends are presented live, having as main set the town’s castle. The highest moment in which everyone awaits anxiously, is when Father Fontes appears to do his exorcism, casting out the witches and evil spirits. And we say no more. Being or not superstitious, going to Montalegre on a Friday the 13th, will certainly be an unforgettable experience.