It’s Friday the 13th….. aka FREAKY FRIDAY

13 Feb

Ever wonder what the big deal is about Friday the 13th? I did, and found most of the superstition is rooted in religion. There happen to be three such occurrences in 2009, two of them right in a row! (02/13, 03/13 and 11/13). I wondered where the superstition from this particular date came from and found A LOT! The superstition does have deep, compelling roots, however, and the origins help explain why the belief is so widespread today.

According to, the sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have ominous reputations said to date from ancient times, and their inevitable conjunction from one to three times a year threatens more misfortune than some naive minds can bear. “According to experts it’s the most widespread superstition in the United States today. Some people won’t go to work on Friday the 13th; some won’t eat in restaurants; many wouldn’t think of setting a wedding on the date.”

How many Americans actually suffer from this condition? According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of phobias, the figure may be as high as 21 million. If he’s right, eight percent of Americans are still in the grips of a very old superstition. There is even a name for it: Paraskevidekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th.

Is it really unlucky? Psychologists have found that people are especially likely to have accidents or fall ill on Friday 13th, due (according to them!) to a heightened state of anxiety on that day. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina estimates that in the United States alone, $800 to $900 million is lost in business each Friday 13th because people will not travel or go to work.

Superstitions about the Number 13

Fear of the number 13 is so rooted in our society that legend has it:


  • If 13 people sit down to dinner together, one will die within the year.
  • The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was practically expunged from their vocabulary.
  • Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue.
  • Many buildings don’t have a 13th floor.
  • If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil’s luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names).
  • Hotels don’t have a 13th floor
  • Restaurants don’t have a table 13
  • 13-phobia may have come from the Hindus, who believed it was unlucky for 13 people to gather in one place.
  • The superstition attached itself to the story of the Last Supper of Jesus and the 12 disciples. (Twelve plus one equals 13.) Judas, who rose first from the table, was the first to die.

Was 13 ever a luck number in history? Sure…

  • Egyptians at the time of the pharaohs considered 13 lucky, because they believed life unfolded in 12 stages, and that there was a 13th stage-the afterlife-beyond.
  • In Tarot decks the “Death” card bears the number 13 but retains its original, positive meaning: transformation.
  • In ancient goddess-worshipping cultures 13 corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). (The “Earth Mother of Laussel,” a 27,000-year-old carving near the Lascaux caves in France, depicts a female figure holding a crescent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches.) Later, according to some historians, 13 got a bad name-particularly among early Christian patriarchs–because it represented femininity.

Superstitions about Friday
I didn’t realize how many bad, or unlucky, things occurred on a Friday in our history. I am starting to think Friday is bad luck because legend has it:

  • Never change your bed on Friday; it will bring bad dreams.
  • Don’t start a trip on Friday or you will have misfortune.
  • If you cut your nails on Friday, you cut them for sorrow.
  • Ships that set sail on a Friday will have bad luck – as in the tale of H.M.S. Friday … One hundred years ago, the British government sought to quell once and for all the widespread superstition among seamen that setting sail on Fridays was unlucky. A special ship was commissioned, named “H.M.S. Friday.” They laid her keel on a Friday, launched her on a Friday, selected her crew on a Friday and hired a man named Jim Friday to be her captain. To top it off, H.M.S. Friday embarked on her maiden voyage on a Friday, and was never seen or heard from again.
  • It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit. Adam bit, as we all learned in Sunday school, and they were both ejected from Paradise.
  • The Great Flood began on a Friday.
  • God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday.
  • The Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday.
  • Friday was the day of the week on which Christ was crucified.
  • Frigg (goddess of love and fertility) & Freya’s (goddess of love) emblem was the fish, which was associated with the worship of love and was offered by the Scandinavians to their goddess on the sixth day of the week, Friday. But the worship of love on Fridays, according to Popular Superstitions, developed into “a series of filthy and indecent rites and practices.” According to Emery, Friday was considered lucky, especially as a day to get married, because of its associations with love. In other pagan cultures, Friday was the sabbath, a day of worship. Once Christianity entered the scene, Freya-whose sacred animal was a cat–was recast in folklore as a witch. In the Middle Ages, Friday was known as the “Witches’ Sabbath.”
  • Some historians suggest the Christian distrust of Fridays is actually linked to the early Catholic Church’s overall suppression of pagan religions and women. In the Roman calendar, Friday was devoted to Venus, the goddess of love. When Norsemen adapted the calendar, they named the day after Frigg, or Freya, Norse goddesses connected to love and sex. Both of these strong female figures once posed a threat to male-dominated Christianity, the theory goes, so the Christian church vilified the day named after them.
  • Abel’s murder by his brother, Cain was on a Friday.
  • St. Stephen’s stoning occurred on a Friday.
  • The Massacre of the Innocents by Herod was on a Friday.
  • It was a Friday when the flight of the children of Israel through the Red Sea.
  • The rounding up of the Knights Templar for torture and execution by King Philip IV of France was on Friday….. it was actually on Friday the 13th: October 13, 1307!
  • In British tradition, Friday was the conventional day for public hangings, and there were supposedly 13 steps leading up to the noose.


One Response to “It’s Friday the 13th….. aka FREAKY FRIDAY”

  1. Richard Fitherson February 16, 2009 at 12:48 pm #

    This post totally freaked me out dude. I had no idea that so many things happened on a Friday and that the number 13 was so previlent in history. I am going to do this subject for a class paper…. you inspired me to dig deeper, thanks!

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