Why Is Friday the 13th Unlucky?

mag813 October 13, 2017 0
Why Is Friday the 13th Unlucky?

Friday the 13th, considered by many as one of the unluckiest days of the year, is here again. This is the second time the fearsome event has struck in 2017, with the first occurring in January.

If you are worried about what’s in store this time then you’re not alone. Psychologists have even come up with a word for how you’re feeling – paraskavedekatriaphobia, or fear of Friday the 13th.

One option is to stay tucked up in bed all day to avoid any potential Friday the 13th bad luck that may come your way or, alternatively, you could ignore the superstitious chatter and embrace it.

To take your mind off the 24-hour panic, here are some fun facts – from where the superstition arose to how to take advantage of the unlucky day.

Friday the 13th has long been regarded as an unlucky day. Why do we choose this day in particular to fear for our lives?

Biblical origins

  • The superstition around this day is thought to have come about during the Middle Ages, and may have Biblical origins.
  • Some historians have claimed it was the day on which Eve bit the apple from the Tree of Knowledge, the great flood began and the builders of the Tower of Babel.
  • In the New Testament there were 13 people present for Jesus’s last supper on Maundy Thursday, the day before Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday.

From the Knights Templar to Dan Brown

  • On Friday October 13th 1307 Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar.
  • In his novel Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown cites the 14th century execution of Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay, which took place on Friday the 13th. He cursed the Pope and the King of France, and this spread misfortune down the ages.
  • It is also possible that the publication in 1907 of Thomas W. Lawson’s popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth played a part in disseminating the superstition. In the novel, an unscrupulous stock broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th.

Bad things that have happened on Friday 13

  • In 1976, New Yorker Daz Baxter was apparently so afraid of Friday the 13th he decided the safest place to stay was his bed. Mr Baxter was killed when the floor of his apartment block collapsed that day.
  • In 2009, the £13.5 million SAW ride at Thorpe Park had its opening premiere, only to be shut down due to a computer programming fault. Spooky.
  • In 2010, lightning struck a 13-year-old Suffolk boy on Friday 13th at 13:13. Definitely unlucky for him.
  • During the early 1990s retired bus conductor Bob Renphrey also vowed to stay in bed on the superstitious day after some seriously bad luck. The Welshman has crashed fours cars, fallen into a river and been made redundant on previous Friday the 13ths.

Friday the 13th events in history

  • Buckingham Palace was hit by five German bombs on Friday September 13 1940 with one member of the royal staff killed and the palace chapel destroyed
  • A Chilean Air force plane ‘disappeared’ in the Andes on Friday 13 October 1972, with 16 survivors turning up two months later. They had been forced to eat dead passengers in order to survive
  • Rapper Tupac Shakur died of his wounds on Friday September 13 1996, six days after being shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting
  • The Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground on Friday 13 in January 2012 off the western coast of Italy killing 30 people
  • Isil carried out seven coordinated terror attacks in Paris killing 130 people on the evening of Friday 13, November 2015.

A numbers’ game

  • The number 13 has been considered unlucky for many years, even before Christ (and his 12 apostles). The number 12 is historically considered the number of completeness, while its older cousin, 13, has been seen as an outlier.
  • There are 12 months of the year, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 hours of the clock, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 Apostles of Jesus, 12 Descendants of Muhammad Imams, among many incidences of the pattern historically.
  • In many Western countries tall buildings are missing the 13th floor. In China the fourth floor and in some cases all floors with the number four are left out of Chinese buildings.
  • Houses often do not have a number 13, and many hotels, including the Carlton in London, miss out a thirteenth floor.
  • It is considered very unlucky for thirteen people to dine together, and the first to rise will reach serious misfortune – a superstition upheld by US President Roosevelt. He also refused to travel on Friday the 13th.

Why Friday the 13th creates bargains

Apparently no one wants to get married on Friday the 13th – so that’s cheaper.

Over the past few years it has emerged that the cost of air travel does indeed fall on the spooky date that comes round once or twice a year – with the savings attributed to a collective fear of flying on “the unluckiest day of the year”.

Buying or selling a home

The number of property transactions decline on Friday 13. Research by FindaProperty.com found that between 2005 and 2012, there were 43 per cent fewer transactions on Friday 13 compared to other Fridays in the month.

The worst day was May 13 2011, when there were 51 per cent fewer transactions. Ironically, these transactions are likely to run more smoothly given that the staff handling them, in solicitors firms and banks, will have more time on their hands.

Property bargains are more likely to relate to houses or flats numbered 13. Number 13 houses are not that common – property website Zoopla found only 28 per cent of streets have one.


Booking a wedding on Friday the 13th could clip significant amounts of the average cost.

For those not concerned about chandeliers crashing down or the chance of a jilting, wedding venue House For an Art Lover offers couples a 13 per cent discount if they get married on Friday the 13th.

The venue has been offering the marked-down marriages since 2013.

Is Friday the 13th bad for business?

On Friday 13 October 1989, a day that is now often referred to as Black Friday, the failed $6.75 billion buyout deal for United Airlines’ parent company sent global markets plunging, knocking 7 per cent and 6 per cent respectively off the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500, which had reached record highs just days earlier. It could be a coincidence – or could there be something else at play?

Is Friday the 13th really that bad?

It may be the day that everyone dreads, but what about the good things that have happened on this inauspicious date?

Here are a few:

The weekend is nearly here!

After every Friday 13th, comes a Saturday 14th, which can only mean one thing: the weekend is nearly upon us!

First nudist colony founded in UK

Britons were allowed to let it all hang out when the North Devon Club in Metherell opened on Friday 13 June, 1930. Hurrah?

Hollywood arrived

The Hollywood sign – which originally read HOLLYWOODLAND – was unveiled on Friday 13 July, 1923. It was built to advertise a housing development, but has since become one of the world’s biggest tourist attractions.

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