A Short History of Friday The Thirteenth

Try not to walk under any ladders or spill salt while reading this article, especially if you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia. (The fear of Friday the 13th)

Everyone knows about the most "unlucky" day on the calendar: Friday the 13th. Did you know how this superstition came about? Did you know that in other countries, there are different "unlucky" days?

It turns out that nobody really knows who decided to make Friday the 13th unlucky, or why. Some theories have been brought forward:

  • 12 is seen in many countries as the perfect number, therefore the number 13 is believed to be imperfect and imposing on 12's uniformity.
  • Friday has been perceived as an unlucky day since at least the 14th Century in Western culture. One of the first references to this belief is in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.

The first reference in English to a person having superstitions about Friday the 13th (as opposed to merely Friday or the 13th day of the month) was Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, who fittingly died on a Friday the 13th.

In Italy, however, Friday the 13th isn't viewed with much superstition at all. The Italians consider 13 a relatively lucky number. Friday the 17th is the day on which people from Rome to Naples get extra cautious.

The extra caution people pay to Friday the 13th has benefits and drawbacks. According to a Dutch study, fewer motorists were involved in accidents on Friday the 13th than on regular Fridays. On the other hand, National Geographic News in 2004 reported that somewhere between $800-900 million of business is lost on this day because people are too superstitious to even leave their homes.

Do you have any Friday the 13th superstitions? Tell us in the comments!

Ernie Miller July 14, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Many claim that this is what started Friday the 13th.
Oscar G. July 14, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Some events are intentionally scheduled for Fridays the 13th for dramatic effect. They include: Bike Rally in Port Dover, Ontario. Takes place every Friday the 13th. The Friday the 13th tradition started in 1981. Chris Simons, a local bike shop owner, and approximately 25 friends, through word of mouth, got together at the Commerical Hotel {The Zoo}, now known as Angelos of Dover. It was in November and it was Friday the 13th. They had such a good time they decided they should do it every Friday the 13th. And so the tradition was born. Up to 70,000 people from far and wide attend this community of about 6500. Black Sabbath's eponymous debut album was released in the UK on Friday, February 13, 1970. The 13th book in A Series of Unfortunate Events was released on Friday, October 13, 2006 by Lemony Snicket, also known as novelist Daniel Handler. Five of the twelve films in the Friday the 13th series, including the most recent (reboot of the series), were released on a Friday the 13th. A long-running theatrical show, Supernatural Chicago, premiered on Friday, February 13, 2004. AdventureQuest Worlds MMORPG features special in-game events featuring Voltaire (musician) and other guests for each Friday the 13th. The Cabin in the Woods, a horror/comedy from Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon was released on Friday, April 13, 2012.
Gaylord Ove July 14, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Interesting article. But, I'm not superstitious. Knock wood!!
Wahrheit-Teller July 14, 2012 at 02:16 PM
13 also has a religious association because of the 12 Apostles plus Jesus equals 13.
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