Friday the 13th

This morning I came to work and was making breakfast in the kitchen. I was talking to my colleague while she was making her breakfast. She accidentally knocked her coffee cup and it smashed into a gazillion pieces. She was quite annoyed that she had to start the Friday morning cleaning the mess and was complaining about it. Just then one of our colleagues came in and remarked that it’s Friday the 13th today so a smashed cup isn’t unusual. It hadn’t occur to me before but after hearing him, I did some digging on the internet about it so here you go.

Normally, western society seems to be less superstitious than eastern society but Friday the 13th is a date considered to be bad luck in western superstition.

Does Friday the 13th freak you out? If so, hold on to your rabbit’s foot extra tight, because there are three of these supposedly unlucky dates in 2012, and today (July 13) is one of them, but the good news is it’s the last.

Read on for 13 strange facts about this day of superstition. (

1. This year is a special one for Friday the 13ths: There are three of them: Jan. 13, April 13 and July 13. The dates fall exactly 13 weeks apart. That hasn’t happened since 1984.

2. If that scares you, you may have paraskavedekatriaphobia (also known as friggatriskaidekaphobia). Those are the scientific terms for fear of Friday the 13th. Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13.

3. It’s not clear when or why Friday the 13th became associated with bad luck. The association may be biblical, given that the 13th guest at the Last Supper betrayed Jesus. His crucifixion was the next day, apparently a Friday. Or maybe 13 suffers from coming after the more-pleasing number 12, which gets to number the months, the days of Christmas and even the eggs in a dozen. (There are also 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labours of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel and 12 apostles of Jesus.)

4. Whatever the reason, fear of 13 has spread far and wide: Hotels and hospitals often skip the 13th floor, and even airports quietly omit gate 13 sometimes.

5. The next year in which we’ll have three Friday the 13ths is 2015. They’ll fall in February, March and November.

6. If you think your Friday the 13th is likely to be bad, be glad you aren’t a 14th-century Knight Templar. On Oct. 13, 1307, officers of King Philip IV of France raided the homes of thousands of these Crusades warriors, imprisoning them on charges of illegal activities. Though the charges weren’t proven, more than 100 died of terrible torture, according to “Tales of the Knights Templar” (Warner Books, 1995).

7. Fittingly, director of psychological thrillers Alfred Hitchcock was born on the 13th — Friday, Aug. 13, 1999, would have been his 100th birthday. Perhaps aptly titled “Number 13,” a film that was supposed to be Hitchcock’s directorial debut never made it past the first few scenes and was shut down due to financial problems. He allegedly said the film wasn’t very interesting. (Meanwhile, Fidel Castro was born on Friday the 13th, in August 1926.)

8. Why does the Friday the 13th superstition stick so firmly in our minds? According to Thomas Gilovich, who chairs the department of psychology at Cornell University, our brains are almost too good at making associations.

“If anything bad happens to you on Friday the 13th, the two will be forever associated in your mind, and all those uneventful days in which the 13th fell on a Friday will be ignored,” Gilovich said in a statement.

9. For pagans, 13 is actually a lucky number. It corresponds with the number of full moons in a year.

10. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is said to have avoided travel on the 13th day of any month, and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.

11. Mark Twain once was the 13th guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. “It was bad luck,” Twain later told the friend. “They only had food for 12.” Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest.

12. Stockbroker and author Thomas W. Lawson, in his 1907 novel “Friday the Thirteenth,” wrote of a stockbroker’s attempts to take down Wall Street on the unluckiest day of the month. Reportedly, stock brokers after this were as unlikely to buy or sell stocks on this unlucky day as they were to walk under a ladder, according to accounts of a 1925 New York Times article.

13. This fear of Friday the 13th can be serious business, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C., which, among other things, offers therapy to help people overcome their fear of the freaky Friday. Their estimates suggest hundreds of millions of dollars, up to $900 million, are lost due to people’s fear of flying or doing business as usual that day, though that number isn’t backed up with other estimates.

Do you believe in Friday 13th being unlucky?


22 responses to “Friday the 13th

  1. Pingback: Superstition and my belief | nepaliaustralian

  2. I celebrated my daughter’s birthday this Friday the 13th. A good pair of friends purposely planned their wedding on Friday the 13th, because they met on Friday the 13th, had their first date on Friday the 13th, and their parents approved of the marriage on Friday the 13th, so it seemed fitting to wait around to get married until a Friday the 13th. 13 is often considered an unlucky number in western culture, but I personally consider 13 lucky. As for Fridays, what’s not to love?

  3. honestly, I never thought of any day as unlucky or tagged it with superstition, and I believe everything is purely coincidental! But this time Friday the 13th, made me believe otherwise. 13th friday july 2012, I will never forget! One of the worst weekends of my life! Im sure now I’ll be extra careful, I only realised later that it was the 13th. It could be coincidental too.. but I’d like to think it was just unlucky! phew!

  4. Was never afraid of 13 before. Thirteen happens to be the first year of teen years and our elder one is already knocking on his tens (two more to go to get there). This has already cause some jitters in both of us. Not afraid but aware 🙂

  5. Interesting history. No, I don’t believe in Friday 13th being unlucky, but it can be fun to play with.

  6. My mom does and sometimes I do to. What happened to me that was unlucky today? I saw a giant flying cockroach in my room, sprayed Raid everywhere, but managed not to kill it and get into a fight with my mom about it.

  7. Frances antoinette

    Ugh, two bad luck instances already occurred even before it struck 09 00!

  8. Sid Dunnebacke

    To add to this great list of info/trivia… I understand that in Spanish speaking cultures it’s the number 17 that is considered unlucky.

  9. i was born on friday the 13th… in india friday is actualy very auspicious and number 13 too…

  10. i feared it but this black friday merry making party is great i love it clad in black

  11. No I don’t think Friday the 13th is an unlucky day, thankfully I’m not superstitious! This was such an interesting post with lots of facts I hadn’t known, great writing! 🙂

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