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13 Facts About Friday The 13th

By Chidirim Ndeche 13 October 2017   |   6:00 am

Wondering what this day is all about and why it is such a big deal? Here are 13 facts you may not know about this scary date:

1. A lot of people live in fear
About 10 percent of Americans fear the number 13 and consider it to be unlucky. In the Middle Ages, weddings were not held and people never set out on journeys on Fridays. This fear specifically leads to financial losses of $800 million annually because people avoid travelling, marrying or even working on this dreadful day.

2. What happened on Friday the 13th
A number of misfortunes have been associated with this day. On a Friday the 13th, 1307, the French king gave the orders to arrest hundreds of Knights Templar. On Friday the 13th, September 1940, the Nazis dropped a bomb on Buckingham Palace but the royal family were not hurt. On Friday the 13th, October 1972, a plane crashed in the Andes; twelve people died instantly and more were killed in an avalanche later, and those who survived resorted to cannibalism. On the 13th of September, 1996, rapper Tupac Shakur died, a few days after being shot several times in Las Vegas as he left a Mike Tyson boxing match. On Friday, October 13th, 1989, the US stock exchange suffered a serious crash, the second most damaging in market history at the time.

3. It is unclear why this day is feared
Apart from the above misfortunes (which could happen on any other day), very little is known to have linked Friday and 13 and caused this day’s notoriety. Some historians believe that these superstitions 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 13th. American businessman Thomas Lawson also wrote a book, Friday the Thirteenth, in 1907.

4. Still on the fear…
The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia or paraskevidekatriaphobia. (Try saying it 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: paraskev√≠ translates as Friday, and dekatria is another way of saying 13. Experts say that friggatriskaidekaphobia affects millions of people and estimate that businesses, especially airlines suffer from severe losses on Friday the 13th. Maybe that’s the cause.

5. Or could it have been Biblical?
Others believe that the myth has Biblical origins. Friday was said to be the day Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, and the day Cain killed his brother Abel. 13 guests attended the Last Supper and the last to arrive was Judas, who betrayed Jesus. The next day was Good Friday, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.

6. No number 13
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. A myth states that Babylonian Code of Hammurabi omitted the 13th law from its list of legal rules. However, it was really a clerical error made by an early translator who left out a line of text.

7. Blame Sunday
For a month to have a Friday the 13th, it must begin on a Sunday. Don’t believe it? Check out the calendar and test it for yourself.

8. Friday the 13th, like death, could come in threes
Bad news for those with the fear of Friday the 13th. Friday the 13th can occur up to three times a year and the 13th day of the month is slightly more likely to be a Friday than any other day of the week. Also, all years will have at least one Friday the 13th. The longest one can go without seeing a Friday the 13th is 14 months. The good news is that there cannot be more than three Friday the 13ths in any given calendar year.

9. Friday the 13th calendar pattern
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. In the 21st century, the cycle began in 2009, then in 2015, 6 years later. This trilogy won’t happen again until 2026 and then 2037. 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.

10. Maybe it’s not so unlucky after all
There is very little evidence to show that Friday the 13th is indeed an unlucky day as many studies have shown that it has little or no effect on events like accidents, hospital visits, and natural disasters. It is even a good day in some places. Since 1995, Finland has dedicated one Friday the 13th in a year to observe National Accident Day to raise awareness about safety on the roads, at home, and at the workplace.

Promotional portrait of British-born American film and television director Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980), dressed in a tuxedo, as he aims a revolver for his anthology program ‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,’ December 12, 1962. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

11. Alfred Hitchcock was born on the 13th
The master of suspense was born on Aug. 13, 1899. He made his directorial debut in 1922 with a movie called “Number 13.” Unfortunately, the film 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.

12. It inspired one of the highest grossing film series
Ironic how a movie about the unluckiest day turns out to be lucky, being a high-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 huge following. The mask worn by Jason Voorhees, the key character in the films, is one of the most known images in popular culture.

13. An asteroid will fly safely by Earth on this day
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.

So, you see. It’s not all bad. Oh and let’s not forget Black Friday sales. Yay!

In this article:
Friday the 13th


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