It’s Friday the 13th today, and whether you’re superstitious or not, you’ll get a creepy kick out of these facts! Here are some things you didn’t know about Friday the 13th.
But first, where did the whole Friday the 13th malarkey arise from?
There is a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table results in the death of one of the diners.
Both Friday and the number 13 are connected with the crucifixion of Christ (Friday being the day the crucifixion took place, commemorated weekly in Catholic practice, and 13 being the number of people present at the Last supper). According to Phillips Stevens, Jr., associate professor of anthropology at the University at Buffalo (SUNY), “There were 13 people at the table (at the Last Supper) and the 13th was Judas. The Last Supper was on a Thursday, and the next day was Friday, the day of crucifixion. When ’13’ and Friday come together, it is a double whammy.”
Friday has been considered an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects at least since the 14th century, as witnessed by Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
Here’s another possible contributing factor…
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 day, the twelve deities of Olympus, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, the 12 successors of Muhammad in Shia Islam, twelve signs of the Zodiac, the 12 years of the Chinese Buddhist cycle, 12 months of the year, twelve numbers on the clock, etc.
By stark contrast, 13 is considered irregular.
To many, it’s just a number, but to many others, it’s so much more:
According to the Stress Management Centre and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day, making it the most feared day and date in history. Some people are so paralysed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed.
A study in the British Medical Journal, published in 1993, concluded that there “is a significant level of traffic-related incidences on Friday the 13th as opposed to a random day, such as Friday the 6th, in the UK.”
However, the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics (CVS) on 12 June 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. Statistically speaking, driving is slightly safer on Friday the 13th, at least in the Netherlands.
Now that you’ve had a history lesson, here are some random facts about Friday the 13th (and the number 13 in general):
- Fear of Friday the 13th dates back to Nordic Mythology. Many of their thirteenth Gods met with violent deaths, such as Loki, the trickster.
- Ancient Romans regarded the number 13 as a symbol of death, destruction and misfortune.
- Tarot Card number 13 is the Death Card, depicting the Grim Reaper (although it is read as transition or change and not literal death).
- Hotels rarely have a room number 13. Usually it is called 12a or 14. Same with floors of buildings and the elevators without a #13 button. (Not sure if this is applicable to the UK…)
- There are 13 steps leading to the gallows.
- There are 13 knots in a hangman’s noose.
- The guillotine blade falls 13 feet.
- The driver of Princess Diana hit pillar #13 at Place de l’Alma when she was killed in Paris, France.
- Certain ocean liners will be held in dock until after midnight to appease passenger’s fears on Friday the 13th.
- Apollo 13, 1970, the 13th mission launched from pad #39 (13 x 3), mission was aborted, after an explosion occurred in the fuel cell of their service module. The rocket had left launching pad at 13:13 CST and the date was April 13th.
- A baker’s dozen consists of 13 for a reason! Apparently, a witch near Albany, NY, demanded 13 items every time she came in to a particular bakery, and one day the old baker could not afford her extra biscuit. She sneered some strange words at the man, and he suffered terrible luck from then on, until he brought her another 13 rolls. After that life was once again easy for the baker and word spread around town.
- The Chinese, Pagans, and others in ancient times marked time by the lunar cycle and calendar, thus 13 was considered a very lucky number.
- Triskaidekaphobia is the technical name for fear of Friday the 13th.
- More than 60 million people worldwide claim to be affected by a fear of Friday 13th.
- Every year has at least one and at most three Friday the 13ths.
- The longest period that can occur without a Friday the 13th is fourteen months.
- Famous people born on Friday the 13th include Samuel Beckett (13 April 1906), Margaret Thatcher (unluckily for many of those in the UK during her time as PM (13 October 1923)), Fidel Castro (13 August 1926) and Steve Buscemi (makes up for Thatcher and Castro (13 December 1957)).
- Many hospitals have no room 13, while airports don’t have a Gate 13.
- Rather obviously, Black Sabbath’s eponymous debut album was released in the UK on Friday, February 13, 1970.
- The first reference to an unlucky Friday the 13th came in an 1869 biography of the composer Rossini who died on Friday November 13, 1868. However, many people believe the fear of this date came from a Friday 13th in 1307, which saw thousands of soldier monks of the powerful Knights Templar massacred by French King Louis IV.
- The 13th of the month is more likely to be a Friday than any other day of the week.
- Lizzy Borden uttered a total of 13 words at her trial.
What about you? Does Friday the 13th scare you?
Let us know in the comments!
P.S. One way to get over the fear of Friday the 13th, if you have it in the first place, is to host a really cool event! If you’d like to know more about the how tos, get in touch!
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