I was already aware of an old superstition regarding the ‘unluckiness’ of Fridays, particularly in the maritime industry.
It was once common for sailors to believe that voyages should never begin on a Friday, and should this superstition be ignored, the belief was that the voyage would be cursed with bad luck throughout its duration.
This superstition was so common that in one maritime book from the 19th Century, Friday was given the unofficial Latin name, “Dies Infaustus”, or “unlucky day”.
Ignore At Your Own Peril
What I wasn’t aware of – until I chanced upon it while reading about maritime superstitions – was an early Urban Legend that exploited this dire fear of Fridays.
According to the Legend, the Royal Navy, incensed that sailors considered Friday to be such an unlucky day, decided to categorically prove that a ‘Friday’ vessel would be no more unlucky than any other ship.
To do this they commissioned a ship to be built – it’s keel was laid on a Friday, it was named HMS Friday, it’s launch took place on a Friday, and it departed on its maiden voyage on a Friday. In one version, the Royal Navy even went so far as to put a Captain James Friday in charge of the ship for its maiden voyage.
As you might expect of such a Legend, HMS Friday set sail on its maiden voyage… and was never seen again…
Mysteries of the Deep?
Of course, tales of mysterious events at sea were common for the time in which this superstition would have been at its height, and it should come as no surprise that a tale would be spun to ‘prove’ the truth of the unlucky Friday superstition.
Thankfully, this Urban Legend can be laid to rest at the bottom of the ocean, since the Royal Navy has no record of a ship ever being commissioned with the name of HMS Friday.
Having said which, a true believer would probably argue that all the records of the vessel’s existence would have been destroyed by the Royal Navy to hide the scandal…