Friday the 13th is a day that has been associated with fear and superstition for centuries. Many people around the world believe that this day brings bad luck and misfortune. However, for some, like my uncle, it is a gift.
My uncle is 73 years old this year, he was born on Friday the 13th of August 1950. His life has been a series of ups and downs, but overall he is very peaceful and happy. I have never heard him complain about the hardships in his life.
When he learned about the fear that many people have about “Friday the 13th”, he laughed and said, “For many people, Friday the 13th is a nightmare, but for me, it’s a gift.” He also shared, “Every passing moment, there are many misfortunes happening in this world, why should we get stuck on a specific day! Let’s focus our energy on positive things in life, when you bring light – darkness will fade away.”
In this article, we will explore the origin and superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th and discover whether there is any scientific evidence to support the fear associated with this day. Let’s dive into the world of Friday the 13th and see what we can uncover!
Origin of the obsession with Friday the 13th
The mystique surrounding Friday the 13th, an enigma tightly entwined in the cultural fabric of Western societies, manifests in various expressions of superstition and fear. The origins of this phenomenon can be traced back through centuries of folklore, myth, and religion, which, over time, have coalesced into a collective fascination — or dread — with this particular day.
As the founder of LotusBuddhas, I’m fascinated by the stories data can tell us, and this phenomenon provides a rich and intriguing case study. Let’s peel back the layers of this fascinating topic.
Firstly, let’s look at the number 13. In numerology, it has often been considered as an ‘unlucky’ number, its ominous reputation echoing throughout history.
Ya see, 12 was considered the perfect number, with 12 months in a year, 12 zodiac signs, and 12 apostles of Jesus. But 13 was seen as off-kilter, irregular, and unbalanced, which made folks think it brought bad luck and misfortune.
One of the earliest references appears in Norse mythology, where Loki, the trickster god, was the 13th guest at a banquet in Valhalla, leading to the death of the beloved god, Balder. Similarly, in Christian tradition, the Last Supper held 13 attendees: Jesus Christ and his twelve disciples, one of whom, Judas, betrayed Christ, leading to his crucifixion on a Friday. These religious narratives have a profound influence on our cultural psyche and may partly explain why 13 has garnered such a notorious reputation.
The distaste for Friday has roots that are equally deep and complex. In Western Christian tradition, Friday is considered unlucky because it is the day of Christ’s crucifixion, often referred to as ‘Good Friday’. Additionally, in maritime tradition, it’s considered unlucky to set sail on a Friday. This long-standing superstition even prompted an experiment in the 19th century, known as the HMS Friday project, designed to debunk the myth. However, when the ship mysteriously disappeared, it only served to strengthen the superstition.
When the two ‘unlucky’ elements – Friday and 13 – collide, the result is a day shrouded in superstition and fear. To understand its enduring power, we have to consider the impact of pop culture. The ‘Friday the 13th’ franchise, launched in 1980, has significantly amplified the day’s infamy. The popular series of horror movies exploits the existing superstition, elevating it to a level of mass cultural consciousness.
At this point, you might be wondering: Why does this matter? Why should we pay any attention to these superstitions and myths? Here’s the thing: as a culture, we’re captivated by mystery and the unknown. Whether we believe in these superstitions or not, they remain a significant part of our cultural narrative. They shape our perceptions, influence our behaviors, and inspire our storytelling.
While it might seem irrational, this obsession underscores the power of storytelling and the human fascination with the enigmatic. Superstitions like Friday the 13th illustrate how ancient narratives continue to influence our modern lives, reminding us of our shared cultural heritage and our enduring fascination with the unknown.
How often does Friday the 13th occur?
Friday the 13th does not occur with a consistent frequency each year. Its occurrence is determined by the intricacies of the Gregorian calendar, a system that has been governing our lives for over 400 years. For those who revel in the mysteries of numerology and calendar-related phenomena, the patterns behind this occurrence offer a compelling study.
In any given year, we can expect Friday the 13th to occur at least once, and at most, three times. The number of Friday the 13ths in a year is influenced by the year’s starting day. If a common year (non-leap year) begins on a Thursday, or a leap year commences on a Sunday, we find ourselves face-to-face with the ‘unlucky’ day three times. However, in years that start on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, we encounter Friday the 13th only once.
The shortest possible interval between two Friday the 13ths is 28 days – a February that starts on a Monday, followed by March. The longest interval, on the other hand, can stretch to 14 months if a common year begins on a Tuesday.
Interestingly, the Gregorian calendar operates on a 400-year cycle, with each cycle comprising 146,097 days. Due to this structure, each cycle contains exactly 688 Friday the 13ths. Therefore, on average, any given date in the calendar (like March 1st, April 2nd, and yes, even Friday the 13th) occurs 688 times as a Friday over a 400-year cycle.
So, despite its reputation as a statistical anomaly or a mysterious quirk of the calendar, Friday the 13th is not as rare or as random as it might first appear. In fact, it’s entirely predictable based on the patterns inherent in the Gregorian calendar.
Movies or books related to Friday the 13th
The cultural phenomenon of Friday the 13th has not only found its way into our shared societal consciousness but also managed to carve a prominent place in popular culture. Film, literature, and even video games have capitalized on the intrigue surrounding this date, resulting in a rich array of creative works that use the superstition as a thematic centerpiece. Here, we’ll explore some of the most noteworthy entries into this canon of Friday the 13th-themed media.
Undoubtedly, the most recognized manifestation of this theme is the “Friday the 13th” film franchise. Debuting in 1980, the franchise has spawned twelve films, a television series, comic books, and several novels. The story focuses on Jason Voorhees, a seemingly immortal killer donning a hockey mask, who terrorizes the fictional Camp Crystal Lake. While not explicitly connected to the superstition surrounding the date, the franchise has been instrumental in cementing the association between Friday the 13th and horror in the public consciousness.
In the literary world, there are several novels inspired by this superstition. “Friday the 13th: Church of the Divine Psychopath” by Scott Phillips, “Friday the 13th: Hell Lake” by Paul A. Woods, and “Friday the 13th: Carnival of Maniacs” by Stephen Hand are part of a series of books that expand the universe of the “Friday the 13th” film franchise. These novels explore various aspects of Jason Voorhees’s lore and deliver a narrative that embraces the suspense and horror characteristic of the series.
“Friday the 13th: The Series,” despite sharing the infamous moniker, does not feature the iconic Jason Voorhees but instead focuses on cursed antiques that must be retrieved to prevent them from causing harm. This television show, which ran from 1987 to 1990, further emphasizes the ominous aura around the date by implying that Friday the 13th is when cursed objects are at their most powerful.
Furthermore, video games such as “Friday the 13th: The Game” (2017) allow players to step into the terrifying world of Camp Crystal Lake. In this asymmetrical multiplayer game, players can either embody the menacing Jason Voorhees or one of the camp counselors trying to survive the night.
Well, these examples underscore the extensive influence of the Friday the 13th superstition. The cultural impact of this belief is so significant that it extends far beyond calendar-related apprehension. It has inspired an entire subgenre of horror media, with an influence that shapes our collective imagination, narrative preferences, and, ultimately, the way we perceive and interact with this particular date.
13 Of the scariest events to happen on Friday the 13th
While Friday the 13th is traditionally associated with bad luck and ominous happenings due to centuries-old superstitions, it’s essential to approach this topic with a dose of realism. While some unfortunate events have indeed occurred on this date, attributing these incidents to the day itself leans more towards confirmation bias than scientific reasoning. However, given the intriguing nature of this superstition, let’s dive into some of the most notable, or rather, the most unsettling events that have coincidentally taken place on a Friday the 13th.
- Buckingham Palace Bombing (1940): During World War II, Buckingham Palace was bombed on September 13th, a Friday. The royal family was reportedly close to being struck, adding a more personal element of fear to the war for many Britons.
- The Murder of Kitty Genovese (1964): This infamous New York crime, where Kitty Genovese was attacked and ultimately killed while nearby residents reportedly did nothing, happened on Friday, March 13th. This case became a symbol of urban apathy.
- Andes Plane Crash (1972): On Friday, October 13th, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed into the Andes mountains, with many passengers surviving the crash but forced to resort to cannibalism to stay alive in the harsh conditions.
- Bhola Cyclone (1970): The Bhola cyclone struck Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) on Friday, November 13th. It’s considered one of the deadliest natural disasters in history, with an estimated death toll up to 500,000 people.
- Stock Market Mini-Crash (1989): Known as ‘Black Friday,’ the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 190.58 points on Friday, October 13th, the second-largest drop experienced in history at that time.
- Sweden Switches Driving Lanes (1967): On Friday, September 13th, Sweden switched from driving on the left side of the road to the right, causing widespread confusion and traffic chaos.
- Tupac Shakur’s Death (1996): The iconic rapper Tupac Shakur died from his injuries after a drive-by shooting on Friday, September 13th.
- Death of British Rapper (2019): British rapper Cadet, Blaine Cameron Johnson, died in a taxi accident on his way to a gig on Friday, February 13th.
- The Costa Concordia Shipwreck (2012): The cruise ship Costa Concordia partially sank after hitting a reef off the Italian coast on Friday, January 13th, leading to the death of 32 passengers and crew.
- Kansas Flooding (1951): Beginning on Friday, July 13th, and lasting several days, devastating floods in Kansas resulted in nearly two dozen deaths and significant property damage.
- The “Friday the 13th Virus” (1989): In the early days of personal computers, a virus was activated on Friday the 13th in January 1989, deleting many files and causing significant data loss.
- Cyclone Gaja (2018): This devastating storm hit the Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Friday, November 13th, causing extensive damage and loss of life.
- Paris Attacks (2015): A series of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in Paris on Friday, November 13th, resulting in 130 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
These events are, indeed, tragic and unsettling. However, you must to remember that they occurred on Friday the 13th by coincidence. Superstition often plays a potent role in how we interpret events, but correlation does not imply causation. Events on this list should be seen as historical happenstances rather than as a manifestation of an ominous date. This helps us to appreciate the nuanced intersection of culture, belief, and reality, encouraging a healthy understanding of our shared narratives and superstitions.
13 Things to avoid on Friday the 13th
In keeping with the cultural fascination and superstition surrounding Friday the 13th, some individuals opt to adjust their routines and activities as a cautionary measure on this particular date. However, it’s crucial to preface this by stating that there is no scientific evidence linking specific actions to increased misfortune on this day. That being said, here are thirteen things people often choose to avoid on Friday the 13th, largely stemming from long-standing superstitions:
- Traveling: Given the widespread fear of accidents on this day, many people prefer to avoid traveling, especially long distances.
- Making big purchases: Some individuals avoid making significant purchases, like a car or a house, due to a superstition that these investments might turn out to be unlucky.
- Starting new ventures: Launching a new business or a major project is often postponed due to the perceived threat of failure.
- Scheduling important events: Major events, such as weddings, are often not planned on this date to avoid potential mishaps or ‘cursed’ beginnings.
- Walking under ladders: A long-standing superstition warns against walking under ladders, a belief that gets extra mileage on Friday the 13th.
- Crossing paths with black cats: The superstition of black cats crossing one’s path being a bad omen often leads people to avoid these feline encounters on this day.
- Breaking mirrors: The fear of seven years of bad luck following the breaking of a mirror is enough for many to take extra care around mirrors on this date.
- Opening umbrellas indoors: This action, often considered to invite bad luck, is commonly avoided on Friday the 13th.
- Spilling salt: The act of spilling salt is seen as an ill omen in many cultures. People tend to be extra careful while handling salt shakers on this day.
- Haircut or nail cutting: While some people in the East believe that it is not auspicious to cut hair or nails on the full moon day, Westerners consider it to be unlucky on Friday the 13th. According to them, cutting hair can bring misfortune to both oneself and one’s family members, while cutting nails will attract lingering misfortune in the following days.
- Not placing a hat on the bed: Placing a hat on the bed is believed to signify a curse that the owner of the house or the bed will soon encounter misfortune. This belief stems from the notion that a bed resembles a coffin, and only when someone passes away is a hat placed on the lid as a sign of respect.
- Ignoring the number 13: People might avoid actions involving the number 13, such as setting an alarm for a time that includes the number 13, or using this number in any form.
- Making risky decisions: Some individuals avoid making any risky decisions on this day, be it related to finances, relationships, or career.
Despite these customary avoidances, it’s important to note that Friday the 13th is just a day like any other. The superstitions surrounding it serve more as a testament to the enduring power of cultural folklore and human psychology than any real threat of misfortune. So whether you choose to avoid these actions, carry on as usual, or even seize the day to challenge these superstitions, remember to approach Friday the 13th with a sense of fun, mystery, and a healthy dose of skepticism.
How to avoid bad luck on Friday the 13th
If you are superstitious and want to avoid bad luck on Friday the 13th, here are some tips that you can follow:
- Stay positive: The power of positive thinking can do wonders. Instead of dwelling on the potential bad luck of the day, try to focus on the positive things in your life.
- Avoid risky activities: If you believe that Friday the 13th is a day of bad luck, it might be best to avoid risky activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping, or extreme sports.
- Don’t start anything new: Many people believe that starting new projects or ventures on Friday the 13th can lead to bad luck. If possible, it might be best to wait until another day to start something new.
- Carry a good luck charm: Many people carry a good luck charm with them on Friday the 13th. It could be anything from a rabbit’s foot to a lucky coin.
- Stay away from black cats: Black cats are often associated with bad luck, so it might be best to avoid them on Friday the 13th.
- Be extra cautious: If you are superstitious, it might be a good idea to be extra cautious on Friday the 13th. Pay attention to your surroundings, drive carefully, and avoid taking unnecessary risks.
Remember, the superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th are just that – superstitions. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that this day is any more or less unlucky than any other day of the year.
Scientific explanations for the fear of Friday the 13th
There is no one definitive answer to why people fear Friday the 13th, but there are several scientific theories that attempt to explain this phenomenon:
- Evolutionary Theory: Some scientists suggest that humans may have evolved to fear Friday the 13th because of its association with bad luck and danger. In our early history, humans had to be constantly alert for potential dangers in order to survive, and any day that was seen as particularly unlucky would have been avoided.
- Cultural Conditioning: Another theory is that people learn to fear Friday the 13th from their culture and upbringing. If people are repeatedly told that Friday the 13th is a day of bad luck, they may begin to believe it even if they do not fully understand why.
- Confirmation Bias: This theory suggests that people may be more likely to notice and remember negative events that occur on Friday the 13th, while discounting or forgetting positive events. This can create a self-fulfilling prophecy where people believe that the day is unlucky simply because they have heard it is, and they only notice events that confirm this belief.
- Numerology: Some people believe that the number 13 is inherently unlucky, possibly because it is seen as an incomplete or imperfect number. This belief may have originated from ancient cultures that used base-12 numbering systems, where 13 would have been an odd and unfamiliar number.
Overall, the fear of Friday the 13th is likely a combination of these and other factors, and is largely a cultural phenomenon that varies from person to person and from culture to culture.