How did Friday the 13th become known as an unlucky date and why? What are the origins of Friday the 13th?
Contrary to common superstition, I consider this as lucky day here at yodisphere.com. Tomorrow is Friday the 13th and to celebrate this most unlucky day for the triskaidekaphobic, I poke around and gather some interesting facts and trivia surrounding this belief.
- If 13 people sit down to dinner together , one will die within the year.
- 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.
- If you cut your hair on Friday the 13th, someone in your family will die.
- A child born on Friday the 13th will be unlucky for life.
- If a funeral procession passes you on Friday the 13th, you will be the next to die.
Facts and Trivia
- 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. There is no 13th Avenue in San Francisco, instead Funston Avenue is between 12th and 14th Avenues.
- Many buildings do not have a 13th floor. You'll see on their elevators that the numbers skip from 12 to 14. 90% of US skyscrapers do away with floor number 13, according to reports by the Otis Elevator Company, the world's largest elevator manufacturers.
- Many airports skip the 13th gate. Airplanes have no 13th aisle.
- On streets in Florence, Italy, the house between number 12 and 14 is addressed as 12 and a half.
- Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13 while the fear of Friday the 13th is called Paraskevidekatriaphobia.
- Many triskaidekaphobes, believe that the unlucky number 13 has something to do with the ill-fated mission to the moon of the Apollo 13.
- The deadliest associations with number 13 are the facts that there are 13 stairs leading to the gallows; the blade in a guillotine fell from a height of 13 feet; and a hangman has 13 knots in a hangman's noose.
- In Formula 1 racing, there is no car with the number 13. The number has been removed after two drivers were killed in crashes, both driving cars numbered 13.
- Killers Charles Manson, Saddam Hussein, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Theodore Bundy, and Jack The Ripper each have 13 letters in their names.
- Tupac Shakur was shot and killed in Las Vegas on a Friday the 13th.
- Al Capone was sentenced to prison on a Friday the 13th.
- Benny Goodman, the King of Swing, died on a Friday the 13th.
- Lizzie Borden, the prime accused in the infamous Hatchet Murder Case of 1892, uttered a total of 13 words during her trial and got acquitted.
- Italians omit the number 13 from their national lottery.
- In France, socialites known as the quatorziens (fourteeners) once made themselves available as 14th guests to keep a dinner party from an unlucky fate.
- The Aztecs brutally killed 39,000 in one day on Friday the 13th of August, 1539. This was done at the request of the recently arrived Hernan Cortez, who claimed to be a god seeking tribute. The next day he overthrew their empire.
- Hammurabi’s Code, the first set of state initiated laws, omits the number 13, leading some to believe the superstition dates back to Babylon in 1700 BC. However archaeologists agree that there indeed was a thirteenth law that was scratched out. Studies of ancient tablets indicate the law condoned cross dressing of government officials, but was probably removed at the advice of Hammurabi’s aides.
- Genghis Khan is said to have tasted his first defeat on Friday the 13th. This fight between Genghis and five other larger children fueled the inferiority complex which drove him to conquer a continent.
- In 1881, a group of 13 people came together to form The Thirteen Club. Their main objective was to dissipate some of the ominous associations of number 13. The number of members eventually rose to 400 which included 5 US presidents namely, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and Chester Arthur. It is therefore that Theodore Roosevelt placed the cornerstone for a new county courthouse in New York on Friday, 13th July in the year 1900.
- The report issued by the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics on June 12, 2008, states "fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays, because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home." This in turn was reflected in the reports received by Dutch insurance companies, in the last three years, which showed that on normal Fridays, the number of traffic accidents touched a figure of approximately 7,800 but it decreased to 7,500 on a Friday, the 13th in The Netherlands.
- On Friday, 13th November, 2009, NASA scientist Anthony Colaprete, confirmed the discovery of 25 gallons of water in the southern polar region of the moon.
- Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx, the celebrated American actor produced exactly 13 feature films with his brothers, entertaining us all for many years.
- The Chinese regarded the number 13 as lucky, as did the Egyptians in the time of the pharaohs. The number 13 therefore symbolized death, not in terms of dust and decay but as a glorious and desirable transformation.
- On October 13, 1307, a day so infamous that Friday the 13th would become a synonym for ill fortune, officers of King Philip IV of France carried out mass arrests in a well-coordinated dawn raid that left several thousand Templars — knights, sergeants, priests, and serving brethren — in chains, charged with heresy, blasphemy, various obscenities, and homosexual practices.
Interesting Norse Story
Twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One, god of mischief, had been left off the guest list but crashed the party, bringing the total number of attendees to 13. True to character, Loki raised hell by inciting Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder the Good, who was a favorite of the gods. Hod took a spear of mistletoe offered by Loki and obediently hurled it at Balder, killing him instantly. All Valhalla grieved. And although one might take the moral of this story to be "Beware of uninvited guests bearing mistletoe," the Norse themselves apparently concluded that 13 people at a dinner party is just plain bad luck.
As if to prove the point, the Bible tells us there were exactly 13 present at the Last Supper. One of the disciples betrayed Jesus Christ, setting the stage for the Crucifixion - that supposedly took place on a Friday.
Thus, some historians peg the superstition to the 13 people who attended the Last Supper.
So, are you scared of Friday the Thirteenth? How do you handle your fears? Or, alternately, do you think this is all just a bunch of nonsene?
Please share your thoughts below.
References and Citations:
» Friday the 13th. Wikipedia entry
» Emery, David “Why Friday the 13th Is Unlucky 13: The Devil's Dozen” About.com Guide
» "History of the Knights Templar" Wikipedia Entry
» Suddath, Claire. “A Brief History of Friday the 13th” Posted Friday, Feb. 13, 2009 (Retrieved: 12 January 2012)
» "Friday The 13th: History, Trivia, and Everything Else You Need To Know" Huffington Post. (Retrieved: 12 January 2012
» "Superstitions: old wives tales, folklore, bizarre beliefs, taboos, omens, lucky & unlucky things, Friday the Thirteenth" Corsinet.com. (Retrieved: 12 January 2012)
» "Bad Luck" Surreal art by Christopher Ulrich