Ever wondered how the world (or most parts of it, at least) came to associate Friday the 13th with bad luck? It is easily one of the most commonly held superstitions in our so-called civilized and educated society. In fact, Hollywood capitalized on this cultural phenomenon by building an entire movie franchise around it.
Every year, the particular date falls on Friday at least two to three times — although in 2016 it only comes around once. Yet, despite its recurrence, people are still pretty terrified of it. According to a study by the North Carolina Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute, approximately 17 million to 21 million people suffer from a fear of Friday the 13th in the United States alone.
In Western culture, the number 13 is considered somewhat of a taboo. Many buildings, both residential and commercial, don’t have a 13th floor while some airplane rows skip from 12 to 14.
Although the exact origins of the day are a little unclear, here are a few things that might have perpetrated the fear.
In Christianity, both Friday and the number 13 are commonly associated with the crucifixion of Jesus — as there were 13 people who sat around the table during the Last Supper and Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
“There were 13 people at the table (at the Last Supper) and the 13th was Jesus,” explained renowned anthropologist Phillips Stevens Jr. “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 for people who have these kind of magical beliefs.”
Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” also popularized the myth that hundreds of the Knights Templar were rounded up and burnt across France on Friday, Oct. 13, 1307.
In 1907, stockbroker Thomas W. Lawson published a book called “Friday the Thirteenth,” which detailed an evil, “Wolf of Wall Street” type business’ attempts to crash the stock market on the unluckiest day of the year.
However, the myth got most popularity after Hollywood began capitalizing on it in the early '80s. Paramount Pictures introduced the world to the first “Friday the 13” movie in 1980.
Since then, Fridays have not been the same.
The fear of 13 is an actual phobia called “Triskaidekaphobia” – though it is only prevalent among Americans and British.
Science has worked hard to understand and explain the phenomenon, but so far, the results have been inconclusive. For instance, in 1993 a British Medical Journal study said there was a “significant” increase in accidents on a Friday the 13. However, the author later confessed it was just “a bit of fun.”
Meanwhile, a 2008 Dutch research study claims people are actually less likely to be injured on the presumably ill fated as they are more careful on the day than an average Friday — thanks to our gullible nature and faint hearts.
The next Friday the 13 does not fall until January 2017.
Today is Friday the 13th, but next Friday is Trump's inauguration day, which is scarier??— Rena (@rena_bernardi) January 13, 2017
Don't worry, Friday the 13th is just the same as any other day . . .— Trump's Book of Calm (@TrumpBookofCalm) January 13, 2017
APART FROM THAT GUY IN THE HOCKEY MASK STANDING JUST BEHIND YOU!!!
tomorrow's Friday the 13th but every day has been Friday the 13th for me so i'm not really worried tbh— Tay💟 (@tmcclung14) January 13, 2017
Midterms on Friday the 13th, because there's really nothing scarier.— Adam Pelz (@ajax_pelz14) January 13, 2017