The Jinx illustration depicted here announced the Friday the 13th wedding party of James Kral and Jenny Patton. It was published in Chicago paper ‘The Day Book’ on June 13, 1913. The devilish skeletal imp announcing the couple’s theme of embracing everything 13 for their big day. The nuptials would take place on the 13th at 3:13 followed by a 13 course dinner, 13 varieties of cocktails… You get the picture.

In the early 20th century the word jinx became commonly associated with Friday the 13th and in publications it wasn’t unusual to see jinx personified as a devilish creature, the harbinger of unfortunate events.

But jinx hasn’t always been defined as an object or person which causes bad luck. The word is derived from a European bird, the jynx or wryneck. When the feathered creature is startled it twists it’s neck and makes a snake-like hissing sound. This peculiar behavior led to the jynx being invoked in witchcraft to cast spells. The snake and bird combo also made the jynx a sign of bad luck.

It is believed the first time the word crossed over from it’s original avian definition to a more sinister one was in the context of baseball. Back in 1910 a passage from ‘The Jinx: Stories of the Diamond’ by Allen Sangree proclaimed, “By th’ bones of Mike Kelly, I’ll do it! Yes, sir, I’ll hoodoo th’ whole darned club, I will. I’ll put a jinx on ’em or my name ain’t Dasher, an’ that goes!” A year later Technical World Magazine ran an article stating, “Most mysterious of all in the psychics of baseball is the ‘jinx,’ that peculiar ‘hoodoo’ which affects, at times, a man, at other times a whole team. Let a man begin to think that there is a ‘jinx’ about, and he is done for for the time being.” So yeah, baseball.

Seemed people liked the word because after that, the term jinx fell swiftly into the vernacular, as you can see by that wonderful wedding announcements. So there have it, a brief history of the word jinx and it’s association with this day. Hope you’re Friday the 13th has been without incident. Mine has been great – but I don’t want to jinx it!


This Bird Will Put a Spell on You. March 1, 2014.

The Day Book, June 13, 1913, Chicago, IL. 13 Jun 1913, Fri  •  Page 31

Copenhaver, Brian P.  Magic in Western Culture: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment. Cambridge University Press

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