Friday the 13th is thought by many to be the unluckiest day in the Gregorian calendar. Here are 13 facts about this day of ill repute.
1. It’s Unclear Why It Is Feared
Very little is known about the origins of the day’s notoriety. Some historians believe that the superstitions surrounding it arose in the late 19th century. The first documented mention of the day can be found in a biography of Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday the 13th. A 1907 book, Friday the Thirteenth, by American businessman Thomas Lawson, may have further perpetuated the superstition.
Others believe that the myth has Biblical origins. Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and there were 13 guests at the Last Supper the night before his crucifixion.
Another account suggests that the day has been associated with misfortune since 1307 when on a Friday the 13th, the French king gave the orders to arrest hundreds of Knights Templar in France.
2. Yet, the Fear Is Very Real
So real that one scientific name wasn’t enough. The fear of Friday the 13th is also called friggatriskaidekaphobia or paraskevidekatriaphobia. Now say that 10 times really fast!
Friggatriskaidekaphobia comes from Frigg, the Norse goddess of wisdom after whom Friday is named, and the Greek words triskaideka, meaning 13, and phobia, meaning fear. Paraskevidekatriaphobia is also derived from Greek: paraskeví translates as Friday, and dekatria is another way of saying 13.
3. …And Very Common!
Experts say that friggatriskaidekaphobia affects millions of people and estimate that businesses, especially airlines, suffer from severe losses on Friday the 13th.
Triskaidekaphobia, or the fear of the number 13, is even more widespread. So much so that many high-rise buildings, hotels, and hospitals skip the 13th floor, and many airports do not have gates numbered 13. In many parts of the world, having 13 people at the dinner table is considered bad luck.
4. Friday the 13th Can Come in Threes
A bit of bad news for all of you who suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia—all years will have at least one Friday the 13th. The good news is that there cannot be more than three Friday the 13ths in any given calendar year. The longest one can go without seeing a Friday the 13th is 14 months.
5. Blame Sunday
For a month to have a Friday the 13th, the month must begin on a Sunday. Don’t believe us? Check out our Calendars and test it for yourself.
6. Friday the 13th Patterns Repeat in the Calendar
There is a calendrical method to the madness of Friday the 13th. Whenever a common year begins on a Thursday, the months of February, March, and November will have a Friday the 13th. This will happen 11 times in the 21st century.
The February-March-November pattern repeats in a 28-year cycle. In the 21st century, the period began in 2009. In 2015, 6 years later, Friday the 13th occurred in February, March, and November. This won’t happen for 11 more years until 2026, and we’ll have to wait again for 11 years until 2037 to see the February, March, and November trilogy. This pattern will repeat itself starting 2043, 6 years after 2037.
7. Even During Leap Years
Three Friday the 13ths can occur in a leap year as well. If January 1 of a leap year falls on a Sunday, the months of January, April, and July will each have a Friday the 13th. In the 20th century, this happened in 1928, 1956, and 1984. And in the 21st century, this will happen four times in 2012, 2040, 2068, and 2096. Notice something interesting? Yes, it is the 28-year cycle again!
8. Fittingly, Alfred Hitchcock Was Born on the 13th
The master of suspense was born on August 13, 1899—so Friday, August 13, 1999, would have been his 100th birthday. He made his directorial debut in 1922 with a movie called Number 13. Unfortunately, the film was doomed from the start and never got off the ground due to financial troubles.
Other celebrities and well-known personalities born on a Friday the 13th include actors Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen; novelist and playwright, Samuel Beckett; and former President of Cuba, Fidel Castro.
9. It’s an Unlucky Day Only for Some
Friday the 13th is not universally seen as a day of misery. For example, in Italy, Friday the 17th and not Friday the 13th is considered to be a day that brings bad luck. In fact, the number 13 is thought to be a lucky number! In many Spanish speaking countries and in Greece, Tuesday the 13th is seen as a day of misfortune.
10. …And Research Suggests That It May Not Be Unlucky After All
There is very little evidence to show that Friday the 13th is indeed an unlucky day. Many studies have shown that Friday the 13th has little or no effect on events like accidents, hospital visits, and natural disasters.
11. The Day Inspired One of the Highest-Grossing Film Series
The commercially successful Friday the 13th enterprise includes 12 horror movies, a television series, and several books that focus on curses and superstitions. Even though the films and the television series consistently received negative reviews from critics, they have a considerable following. The mask worn by the key character in the movies, Jason Voorhees, is one of the most known images in popular culture.
12. …And a Country to Raise Safety and Accident Awareness
Since 1995, Finland has dedicated one Friday the 13th in a year to observe National Accident Day. The day aims to raise awareness about safety—on the roads, at home, and at the workplace.
13. An Asteroid Will Safely Fly By the Earth in 2029
On a Friday the 13th! Friday, April the 13th, 2029, to be exact. When 99942 Apophis was discovered in 2004, it was thought to have a small chance of colliding with Earth. But you can rest easy because since then, scientists have revised their findings which show that there is absolutely no risk of the asteroid impacting the Earth or the Moon.