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Why is Friday the 13th Unlucky?

Just like walking under a ladder, opening an umbrella inside your house, crossing paths with a black cat, or breaking a mirror, many people hold fast to the belief that Friday the 13th brings bad luck. The day tends to make people more careful or avoid things they usually aren’t afraid to do. Of course, no one can prove that more misfortune takes place on Friday the 13th, we just tend to notice it more if bad things do happen on that day. Though it’s uncertain exactly when this superstition began, the notion of this day bringing misfortune has existed for centuries. Many experts have researched and speculated over the years, and below are some of their theories.

How often does Friday the 13th happen?

While Friday the 13th may feel like a rare phenomenon, our Gregorian calendar means that the 13th of any month is slightly more likely to fall on a Friday than any other day of the week. On average, there is a Friday the 13th once every 212.35 days. It can occur with an average frequency of 1.72 per year, up to 3 times a year. In 2023 there are two Friday the 13ths, one in January and one in October.

The fear of Friday the 13th

When it comes to bad luck, there are few superstitions as pervasive in Western culture as that of Friday the 13th. The ancient Code of Hammurabi, for example, reportedly omitted a 13th law from its list of legal rules. Though this was probably a clerical error, superstitious people sometimes point to this as proof of 13’s longstanding negative associations.

There’s even a name to describe the irrational dread of the date: paraskevidekatriaphobia, a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, which is a fear of the number 13. It is not, however, a universal superstition: In Greece and Spanish-speaking countries, it is Tuesday the 13th that is considered a day of bad luck, while in Italy, it is Friday the 17th that is worrisome.

Why is Friday the 13th unlucky?Woman scared in the dark

Like many superstitions that have evolved over time and across cultures, it is difficult to pinpoint the precise origins of Friday 13th. What we do know, though, is that both Friday and the number 13 have been regarded as unlucky in certain cultures throughout history.

Unlucky Number 13

It’s possible that 13 is considered “cursed” because it’s the number after 12, which many in western cultures have historically associated with completeness. For example, there are 12 months in a year, 12 days of Christmas, 12 zodiac signs, 12 gods of Olympus, and 12 tribes of Israel, just to name a few. So it’s possible the number 13 makes people uneasy because it seems unnatural.

The concept of the cursed date has been traced back to Norse mythology, when Loki, the god of mischief, crashed a banquet in Valhalla. Thus making the number of gods in attendance 13 and bringing with him the demise of one of the original gods in attendance.

The seating arrangement at the Last Supper is believed to have given rise to a longstanding Christian superstition that having 13 guests at a table was a bad omen, specifically that of death. The 13th and most infamous guest to arrive to the Last Supper, Judas Iscariot, was the disciple who betrayed Jesus, leading to his crucifixion.

Bad Luck Friday

Though Friday’s negative associations are weaker, some have suggested they also have roots in Christian tradition. According to the bible Jesus was crucified on a Friday, the Temple of Solomon was toppled on a Friday, and it was the day Noah’s ark set sail in the Great Flood.

What Bad Things Have Happened on Friday 13th?

On Friday, October 13, 1307, officers of King Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar, a powerful religious and military order formed in the 12th century. Imprisoned on charges of various illegal behaviors, many Templars were later executed. Some cite the capture of the Templars as the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition, but like many legends involving the Templars and their history, the truth remains murky.

In more recent times, a number of traumatic events have occurred on Friday the 13th, including:

  • Sam Patch, America’s first professional daredevil, plunged to his death in the Genesee River (November 1829)
  • The German bombing of Buckingham Palace (September 1940)
  • The murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens, New York (March 1964)
  • A cyclone that killed more than 300,000 people in Bangladesh (November 1970)
  • The crash and disappearance of Uruguayan Flight 571 in the Andes (October 1972)
  • The worst plan crash in Russian history, Aeroflot 217, killing 174 people (October 1972)
  • The killing of rapper Tupac Shakur (September 1996)
  • The crash of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy, which killed 30 people (January 2012)
  • COVID-19 is declared a National Emergency in the U.S. (March 2020)

Friday the 13th in Pop Culturewoman watching a scary movie

The combination of Friday and the number 13 grew in notoriety in the Victorian period. In 1907, the publication of Thomas W. Lawson’s popular novel “Friday, the Thirteenth” captured the imagination with its tale of an unscrupulous broker who took advantage of the superstitions around the date to deliberately crash the stock market.

The horror movie “Friday the 13th”, released in 1980, introduced the world to a hockey mask-wearing killer named Jason, and is perhaps the best-known example of the famous superstition in pop culture history.

For most people, being afraid of Friday the 13th is just a superstition, something that we can have fun pretending to fear because we know, well, there’s really nothing to fear. But if you want to cross your fingers just in case, that’s fine too!

This year, there is a Friday the 13th in October, the same month as Halloween! We wish for you to experience GOOD luck on this extra spooky Friday! Learn more about the history of Halloween here.

Remember, this Friday the 13th and every other day of the year, your money is safe at Credit Union of Denver. With our great deposit rates for CDs, Rewards Checking, and more, you’re sure to have good luck with your money at Cāˆ™Uāˆ™D!


Sources & Enhanced by Credit Union of Denver,than%20on%20any%20other%20day.&text=On%20average%2C%20there%20are%201.72,years%20between%202000%20and%202010.

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