We can never escape a year without a Friday the 13th. This year we will have Friday the 13th in June and next year we will have the maximum – three days of mystery – February, March and November.
This inauspicious date has plenty of rumors and superstition surrounding it. The big question – Is there actually any truth behind all the myth and fear mongering? Whether there is or not, many people believe that the day is cursed or will be a source of ill fortune.
Why all the anxiety about Friday the 13th?
It seems over the years that Western culture has become ingrained with a fear of Friday the 13th. In other cultures it’s totally meaningless. Although some of us may be a bit wearier of stepping under ladders or crossing paths with black cats, there a few individuals that experience extreme angst. For that reason activities or lack of activities on Friday the 13th present a major financial challenge to businesses. It has been estimated that upwards of $800 to $900 million is lost on that one single day because people refuse to fly, eat in restaurants, buy a house, sign important documents, host a party, apply for a job, get married or act on a hot stock tip. Basically – Friday the 13th has become the day that is not business as usual.
Triskaidekaphobia – fear of the number 13
Strictly speaking, triskaidekaphobia refers only to fear of the number 13 but the term often extends to include the fear Friday the 13th. One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day. Doubling up with the number 13 would then produce a double dose of unluckiness. Both Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover suffered from triskaidekaphobia. Henry Ford would not do business on a Friday the 13th and Franklin Delano Roosevelt avoided travel on that day.
How do we view the ominous number 13 with or without a Friday attached?
- Many buildings and skyscrapers do not have a 13th floor
- Some hospitals avoid labeling rooms with the number 13
- Many airports will not have a gate 13
- Some cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue
- In Florence, Italy, house addresses between number 12 and 14 are addressed as 12 1/2
- When entertaining, some hosts will not allow 13 people to sit at a table – a second table would be set up if there are exactly 13 guests
- In France socialites known as the quatorziens (“fourteeners”) once made themselves available as a 14th guest to keep a dinner party from an unlucky fate
- Skippers do not favor going out to sea with a crew of 12 because including the captain that made 13 people on board
- Ancient Babylonian Code of Hammurah omitted the number 13 in its list of laws
- The Knights Templar were arrested on Friday, October 13, 1307
- In the Middle Ages it was believed witches met in covens of 13 – and the 13th member was the devil himself
- On Friday Oct. 13, 1989, Wall Street saw the second largest drop of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in history. The day became known as Friday-the-13th Mini-Crash
- The Apollo 13 lunar mission was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded
- Australia’s biggest wildfire, Florida’s Hurricane Charley, and Kansas’s “Great Flood of 1951” all occurred on a Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th – really it isn’t all that bad
While the majority of us will grit our teeth and muster through the day, Friday the 13th isn’t all bad. Paramount Pictures made a killing (no pun intended) with their multiple Friday the 13th films. Although the movies were never popular with critics, Friday the 13th is considered to be one of the most successful media franchises created in Hollywood.
In 2008 an insurance study was conducted in the Netherlands to prove that Friday the 13th was no different than any other day of the year. The report included two years of data and actually ended up demonstrating the opposite to what was expected. It was revealed that Friday the 13th is actually a slightly safer day to drive than other day. It was also discovered there were fewer general accidents on that day and fewer reports of fire and theft. The experts believe that preventative actions are likely the reason.
Ancient Mayans considered the number 13 to be sacred so it is entirely possible to turn the tables and make
Friday the 13th your super lucky day. It can be as simple as having a good attitude and a relaxed approach to daily life. According to CNN.com, one British couple won $17 million after buying their lottery ticket on Friday 13 – the same day that their mirror at home fell and broke!
Bring yourself good luck on Friday the 13th
- Get out of the bed on the right side (that is, not the left side of the bed)
- Get your most trusted lucky charm out and put it in your pocket for the day
- Tell everyone that 13 is your lucky number
- Pet a black cat. Close your eyes and scratch, listen for the purr. Black cats face terrible discrimination from the superstitious. It still counts if the kitty has white mittens or tuxedo markings
- Avoid useless, purposeless risks
- Clothes worn inside out will bring good luck (well, maybe just your underwear)
If you have a few minutes to ‘kill’, have a look at these two videos.
Happy Friday the 13th!
It is bad luck to fall out of a thirteenth story window on Friday.
~ American Proverb