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.