Friday the 13th: Meaning and why we're so afraid of it

Friday the 13th: Meaning and why we're so afraid of it
Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

Do you get nervous when Friday the 13th rolls around on the calendar? If so, you might have paraskavedekatriaphobia. While some may scoff at the notion Friday the 13th brings bad luck, others opt out of getting married, giving birth — or doing anything that seems even remotely like cheating fate — on this particular day. 

But why are we all so afraid of Friday the 13th, and are our superstitions even founded? 

Origins of the Friday the 13th superstition

The Last Supper may play a part in our Friday the 13th superstitions.
Source: 
Kozlik/Shutterstock

There are a number of theories about why Friday the 13th is supposed to be such a scary, unlucky or unholy date, and many of them trace the origin back to the Bible. According to TIME, Jesus is believed to have been crucified on a Friday, and Judas was the last to arrive at the Last Supper the night before. While he was the 12th apostle, he was actually the 13th person there. 

"When those two events come together, you are reenacting at least a portion of that terrible event," Dr. Phil Stevens, an associate professor of anthropology at the University at Buffalo, told TIME.

Many believe the arrest of the Knights of Templar may also play into the date's unlucky associations.
Source: 
Celiafoto/Shutterstock

Other sources place the origin of the superstition elsewhere. The Telegraph points to an event in 1307, when Philip IV of France rounded up and arrested the Knights of Templar. National Geographic, meanwhile, says most people didn't even worry about the date until a novel titled Friday, the Thirteenth was published in 1907.   

Norse mythology has been thrown in as well. According to Mental Floss, Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute, believes we can trace our collective fear of the number 13 all the way back to a Norse myth in which 12 gods had dinner together in Valhalla. Then, the 13th guest Loki showed up, and, tricked the god Höðr into shooting his brother, Baldr, with a spear tipped with mistletoe. Because Loki was the 13th guest to arrive, the number 13 supposedly inherited an unlucky connotation.

Is Friday the 13th really unlucky?

Aw, poor Jason...
Source: 
Snorg Tees

We may be divided on whether Friday the 13th is truly unlucky, but there's no denying some bad things have happened on the date. Here are a few:

- The 1972 Andes plane crash — where survivors resorted to cannibalism in order to survive — occurred on Friday the 13th.

- The legendary rapper Tupac Shakur died on September 13, 1996. It was a Friday. 

- According to the Telegraph, a man named Daz Baxter decided to stay in bed on Friday the 13th in 1976 in order to avoid the dangerous day. While Baxter was staying inside, the floor of his apartment building collapsed and he died.

- On Friday, August 13, 2010, a 13-year-old boy was struck by lightning in Suffolk, England.

Science, meanwhile, says there's nothing to fear about Friday the 13th.

"No data exists, and will never exist, to confirm that the number 13 is an unlucky number," Igor Radun of the Human Factors and Safety Behavior Group said, according to LiveScience

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Julia Tilford

Julia Tilford is a news writer for Mic.com.

MORE FROM

‘Hot Mic’ podcast: GOP healthcare lives, Trump is angry with Sessions, Manafort subpoenaed

What you need to know for Wednesday, July 26.

UK bans all new diesel and gasoline cars starting in 2040

Britain is pushing for a move to cleaner, more efficient vehicles.

Thousands evacuated in French Riviera as wildfires break out along the coast

Fires are threatening the popular vacation destination.

Warrant suggests Justine Damond may have slapped police cruiser before she was fatally shot

The officers involved in the shooting remain on paid administrative leave.

House passes new sanctions against Russia by an enormous margin

The bill also places limits on Trump’s power to ease or end penalties against Russia.

Paul Manafort is meeting with Senate investigators. Here’s what we know about his Russia ties.

Paul Manafort has Russia links dating back more than 10 years.

‘Hot Mic’ podcast: GOP healthcare lives, Trump is angry with Sessions, Manafort subpoenaed

What you need to know for Wednesday, July 26.

UK bans all new diesel and gasoline cars starting in 2040

Britain is pushing for a move to cleaner, more efficient vehicles.

Thousands evacuated in French Riviera as wildfires break out along the coast

Fires are threatening the popular vacation destination.

Warrant suggests Justine Damond may have slapped police cruiser before she was fatally shot

The officers involved in the shooting remain on paid administrative leave.

House passes new sanctions against Russia by an enormous margin

The bill also places limits on Trump’s power to ease or end penalties against Russia.

Paul Manafort is meeting with Senate investigators. Here’s what we know about his Russia ties.

Paul Manafort has Russia links dating back more than 10 years.