To some this day is one of pure dread and horror. Yet others think it just a day filled with bad luck waiting to rain down from bleak skies. Still, others find it a day of celebration — a day just shy of Halloween in order of evil magnitude.
But where did this myth come from? Why is Friday the 13th so unlucky? Was it the birthday of Satan? Did some atrocity occur on this day to lend it some hateful credence? You’ll be surprised by the answer.
According to the Wikipedia entry (so it must be true — wink, wink), the following possibilities exist for the reasoning behind the madness:
- In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve hours of the clock, twelve gods of Olympus, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, the 12 successors of Muhammad in Shia Islam, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.
- Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century’s The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys, begin new projects or deploy releases in production. Black Fridayhas been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s. It has also been suggested that Friday has been considered an unlucky day because, according to Christian scripture and tradition, Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
- One author, noting that references are all but nonexistent before 1907 but frequently seen thereafter, has argued that its popularity derives from the publication that year of Thomas W. Lawson‘s popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth, in which an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th. Records of the superstition are rarely found before the 20th century, when it became extremely common.
- The fear of Friday the 13th has been called friggatriskaidekaphobia (go ahead… pronounce it, I dare ya.)
- On June 12, 2008, stated that “fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays, because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home.
- Black Sabbath’s eponymous debut album was released in the UK on Friday, February 13, 1970.
- Five of the twelve films in the Friday the 13th series were released on a Friday the 13th.
- On January 13, 2012, the luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia sank in front of the island of Isola del Giglio, killing at least sixteen aboard and injuring 64.
- The asteroid 99942 Apophis will make a close encounter with Earth, closer than the orbits of communication satellites, on April 13, 2029.
- On Aug. 13, 1521, the Aztec Empire comes to an end after Conquistador Cortés captures the ruler of Tenochtitlán, claiming the city for Spain and renaming it Mexico City.
- On July 13, 1821 notorious Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest is born in Tennessee.
- On Sep. 13, 1940, German bombs hit Buckingham Palace, completing destroying the palace’s chapel.
- On July 13, 1956, Great Britain and the U.S. reject pleas from India and Yugoslavia to stop atmospheric testing of nuclear weaponry. Oh, if only we had listened.
- On Nov. 13, 1970, a monsoon storm kills close to 300,000 people in Bangladesh. Even worse, the storm causes a flood that kills close to 1 million people in the Ganges Delta and leaves countless more without shelter and other basic necessities.
- On June 13, 1986, The Olsen twins (Mary-Kate and Ashley) are born. If you happened to catch their movie New York Minute, you clearly know why their birth is included on this unfortunate list.
- On Jan. 13, 1989, the Friday the 13th virus hits and negatively affects IBM computer all over Great Britain. And in the beginning of the digital age (before troubleshooting and spyware existed) this was a very big deal–and caused mass hysteria.
- On Oct. 13, 1989, the Dow Jones experienced the second largest drop that it had ever experienced (at the time at least). This event was later nicknamed the Friday the 13th mini crash.