Friday the 13th brings along a slew of myths and superstitions, having us sidestep ladders and dodge black cats.
Where did the hysteria come from?
Some believe the superstitious attitude surrounding the date came about during the Middle Ages. Other theories claim its foundations stretch from Biblical times, originating from the story of Jesus’ last supper where there were 13 individuals present, Judas being the 13th guest.
Textually, one of the earliest references to date comes from Henry Sutherland Edwards’ 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini who died on Friday the 13th, writing, “… he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday 13th of November he passed away.”
In Thomas W. Lawson’s sensational 1907 novel, “Friday, the 13th,” the fear of the date is amplified when a broker takes advantage of the superstition to create Wall Street panic.
Then, there’s Dan Brown’s iconic novel “The Da Vinci Code” wherein events that occurred on Friday, Oct. 13th 1307 is credited as the birth date of the superstition. Thousands of Knights Templar were arrested at the direction of King Philip IV of France due to suspicions that their secret initiation rituals made them “enemies of the faith.”
Then, there’s the slasher films. Horror fans everywhere love to be spooked by hockey-mask-wearing, machete-wielding Jason Vorhees. The "Friday the 13th" franchise currently boasts 12 successful films, but number 13 is long coming. The film has been in production for years, but continues to hit hurdles. It’s currently slated for a release of October 13th, 2017, but some believe the 13th film is cursed.
There's a word for that
Fear of Friday the 13th has so many spooked, there’s now a word for it – friggatriskaidekaphobia. Etymologically speaking, Frigg is the Norse goddess whom Friday was named after. Another name for it is paraskevidekatriaphobia, loosely based on the Greek word for Friday. But some even fear the number itself, known as triskaidekaphobia. And no, we’re not just slamming on our keyboards.
13 has been considered unlucky for many, many years, completely nosediving from the previous number -- 12 is often seen as ‘completeness’ and a state of being “whole” (12 months of the year, 12 hours on the clock, etc.)
There’s so many myths and legends surrounding Friday the 13th. For example, some of the most common myths include bad luck if you walk under a ladder, pass a black cat, or, more extensively, have 7 years of bad luck if you shatter a mirror. More morbidly, if you pass a funeral procession, you’ll be the next to die (or so they say.)
However, Friday the 13th isn’t necessarily the unluckiest day of the year for everyone. In Italy, Friday the 17th is the day to fear, with 13 being considered a lucky number. In Spain, not Friday but Tuesday the 13th the unluckiest day.
But, be warned. We're (un)lucky enough to see a second Friday the 13th in 2017, as it makes a triumph return in October, just in time for Halloween.