The origin of Friggatriskaidekaphobia (the fear of Friday the 13th) is not really conclusive, but it’s believed it came from an amalgamation of two different superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number, and that Friday is an unlucky day.
In numerology, the number twelve is favored for its association with completeness: twelves months in a year, twelve hours on a 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, throwing off the balance of 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. Many buildings, especially older ones, generally skip having a 13th floor, going right from 12 to 14.
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 Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s.
In actuality, Friday the 13th being considered unlucky is a relatively new superstition, with evidence of it only coming into popularity as early as the beginning of the 20th century.
So what are some events that have occurred that lend credence to the Friday the 13th superstition?
Glad you asked:
- On October 13, 1307, Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay and several Templar Knights were arrested by King Phillip of France. Most were eventually tortured to death.
- On January 13, 1939, the single worst bushfire in Australian history struck Victoria, Australia, claiming 71 lives and causing widespread damage.
- The renowned rapper Tupac Shakur was pronounced dead on September 13, 1996.
- On August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley slammed in to Southwest Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since 1992.
- On January 13, 2012, France, Austria, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Italy, Portugal and Spain had their credit ratings downgraded by Standard & Poor’s
- 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.
- North Korean satelite launch attempt Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 failed on April 13, 2012 (Although, most would consider this a good thing).
- The asteroid 99942 Apophis will make a close encounter with Earth, closer than the orbits of communication satellites, on April 13, 2029.