Like faith, superstition is a powerful thing. While most people will go about their lives without ever worrying, many actively try and avoid superstitious events. This is largely because of the intensely fearful connotations many superstitions bear. Friday the 13th is one such superstition. What is confusing, however, is how no one really knows why it is as feared as it is! Courtesy of its mysterious origins, we set out to find as much “dirt” on it as possible… and what we found out will positively shock you!
Friggatriskaidekaphobia – from Frigga (an English variant of Old Norse Frigg, the Norse goddess for whom Friday was named), and triskaidekaphobia, which is the term for the irrational fear of thirteen, is much more wide spread than you think. Prominent author Stephen King even went as far as writing an entire column on his own triskaidekaphobia.
In many cases, actual science has also attempted answering the age-old question about the date’s scary nature. LiveScience reports that the fear largely comes down to cultural roots more so than actual statistics of things going wrong. Furthermore, National Geographic reports how religious beliefs have an impact on superstitious beliefs as well. The report concedes that unfortunate events are equally as common on Friday the 13th, as any other day. With that said, friggatriskaidekaphobia is an irrational fear for a reason. As such, we decided to dig a little deeper and find out exactly what makes the date as freaky as it is.
You can blame Sunday the 1st
We may not be scientists and mathematicians, but looking at a calendar is easy to do! This is what we did, and we realised that every Friday the 13th in recent history was preceded by a simple event: Sunday the 1st. This means those who suffer from Friggatriskaidekaphobia can actually figure out whether or not they need to be afraid, just by looking at the first day of the month! Life hack pro tips, yo!
Friday the 13th is just as rare as Friday the 6th
If it ever happens that you miss whether or not the month started on a Sunday, you can always rely on a backup! As it turns out, a month starting on a Sunday automatically enables Friday the 13th. However, this also means that it features a Friday the 6th – the second warning call for anyone afraid of the date! If you do not believe our immaculate research [of looking at a calendar] you can look toward renowned Astrophycist Neil Degrasse Tyson as proof:
Sometimes bad things happen in threes
With the top life hacks out of the way, we also decided to pull out our calculators (read: Google) and work out exactly how often the ill-fated date occurs. According to our extensive research, it average every 212 days. This means it could occur as many times as twice a year! However, there are cases where it occurs three times in a single year. The last unfortunate year this happened was 2015. In 2021 and 2022, people suffering from Friggatriskaidekaphobia can expect to see it only twice.
Space is out to get us
Apart from occurring naturally throughout the Gregorian calendar, it seems that space and mother nature are having a lover’s spat! On Friday the 13th 2029, Asteroid 99942 Apophis will fly by the earth so closely that you will be able to see it with your bare eyes. While the actual distance is much further away than the moon, it is a scary thought to know how space just flung this at earth millennia ago and she missed by a mere thirty-thousand kilometres!
Friday the 13th has a Biblical origin story
Every supervillain has an origin story and Friday the 13th is no exception! According to biblical scholars, the Last Supper hosted thirteen guests – Jesus and his twelve apostles. As the story goes, one of the disciples, Judas, would end up betraying the Messiah. He was also the last person to arrive for dinner… the 13th person. As a result, many people believe the superstition is rooted in religion. It also does not help the date’s villainous status that Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
Friday the 13th was a bad time for Templars
The fictional war between the Assassin Brotherhood and the Templars may not be as fictional as we thought! On 13 October 1307, officers of King Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar and subsequently executed them. Like with many legends and myth, however, the juicy details about this event are murky at best. A shame, considering it would make for an incredible adaptation.
Thomas Lawson wrote a horror
In 1907, Stockbroker Thomas William Lawson published a book called Friday, the Thirteenth. The book tells the tale of a stockbroker who picks Friday the 13th to manipulate the stock market and bring down the entirety of Wall Street. This in turn made thousands of stockbrokers scared that something similar would actually happen in real life. Thanks a lot Thomas!
Friday the 13th is not all bad!
The superstition that Friday the 13th is a scary date is spread far and wide. There came a time, however, where America’s finest thought it rubbish at best. So much so, in fact, that they joined a club dedicated to prove how wrong the superstition really is. The Thirteen Club, founded by Captain William Fowler, dined regularly on the 13th of every month, in the 13th room of Knickerbocker Cottage in Fowler. He was joined by former United States presidents Chester A. Arthur, Grover Ceveland, Benjamin Harrison, and even Theodore Rooseveldt.
Friday the 13th is Alfred Hitchcock origin
Some people may be born with superstitious origins, and legendary producer Alfred Hitchcock is surely the frontrunner. Born on 13 August 1899, Alfred Hitchcock went on to direct and produce countless psychological horrors that are considered classics today. Most notably, perhaps, is Psycho (1960), which was also his final award-winning directorial nomination.
Maybe cats are to blame?
Well, not entirely. Superstition can sometimes affect even the bravest of people. This is exactly what happened when the good folks of French Lick, Indiana, decided to start a tradition. The tradition in question? All black cats in the town had to wear a bell around their necks every Friday the 13th. The tradition spanned from the 1930s and into the 40s. Too bad it is not around now – bells are always cute!
One big reason people do not like the number thirteen comes from the bible. Another, however, comes from norse mythology! While norse myth has many depictions, most of the variants can agree on one thing: Loki sucked. Most of the stories tell of Loki tricking the blind god Höðr into killing his brother Bald’r with a dart made of mistletoe. Some accounts say his death took place at a dinner held for twelve gods before Loki (the thirteenth addition) eventually joined in.
The Fins do not take Friday the 13th Lightely
Bad things happen to good people! So much so that Finland decided it best to raise awareness of bad luck in the best way possible: by turning the unluckiest day of them all into National Accident Day. Every single year, Finland will dedicate one Friday the 13th to raise awareness about safety on the roads, at home, and at the workplace. What a nice thing to do!
Italy is not having any of it!
Some people are not superstitious in the ways that you think. Italy, for instance, does not even think Friday the 13th is anything to worry about! Why would this one day be any more ill-fated than others? As such, the good people of Italy tend to go about their days in normal fashion every day of the year. That is unless the day is Friday the 17th! I promise I am not making this up.
What do you make of Friday the 13th? We know many creative people out there have literally turned it into art! Whether you are superstitious about the date or not is all up to you. Hopefully the list above served as a shiny light in the dark tunnel that is this mysterious day!