Superstitions have become part of different cultures all around the world. Some may be downright weird, while some trace its roots from ancient practices and beliefs. In Japan, it’s not advisable to stab your food with chopsticks and leave it sticking up as these utensils are said to resemble the number four, which is considered an unlucky number that means death. Opening your trusty umbrella indoors is also considered as a bad omen as it is said that bad luck will “rain” down on you.
Filipinos also have a healthy dose of superstitions, just like the age-old “pagpag” that has you heading to your favorite mall right after visiting the cemetery or attending a funeral. It is believed that if you go home directly, a bad spirit might tag along. However, the most popular out of all of them has got to be the unexplained fear surrounding Friday the 13th. What’s with this fateful day, really? Here are thirteen not-so-freaky facts about the mystery that is Friday the 13th.
Nobody can really pinpoint the exact explanation about the negative stigma surrounding Friday the 13th. However, it’s still considered as the unluckiest day according to Western superstitions. Apparently, it is believed that you are more prone to bad juju on this day. Think Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, but in real life.
13 Guests during the Last Supper
Some say that this belief may have Biblical origins. Jesus’ crucifixion happened on a Friday. But the night before that, he and his disciples had what is called the Last Supper. And the number of guests during that feast? Yep, you guessed it right: 13!
The Tragic Fate of the Knights of Templar
If you’re not familiar with the Knights of Templar, they are a group of devout Christians from the medieval times who vowed to protect the Holy Land. It was probably just coincidence, but France’s King Philip IV had them all arrested on Friday the 13th, in October 1307. Many of them later met their tragic end.
These Helped Spread the Superstition
There were a few literary works that helped instill this belief in the last century. The earliest of these is the biography about Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, who died on Friday the 13th. American businessman Thomas Lawson also helped spread the superstition through his book Friday the Thirteenth, which was published in 1907.
It Comes in (Up to) Threes
Did you know that we get to experience this “unluckiest day” at least once a year? Some years can have more than one Friday the 13ths, but there can never be more than three. Phew!
Blame it on Sunday
Aside from looking at the calendar, there’s also one more thing that could let you know if we’ll have a Friday the 13th on a particular month. If the 1st day of the month falls on a Sunday, then you’ll be needing all the luck you need in two weeks as it would definitely be a Friday the 13th.
Most Feared Day
If you say that you don’t have to fear Friday the 13th, millions of people would probably disagree with you. Apparently, a lot of people have the phobia called friggatriskaidekaphobia or paraskevidekatriaphobia—the fear of Friday the 13th. In the U.S. alone, there are around 17-21 million people who have this phobia. They even avoid doing business or traveling on this day.
People Avoid the Number 13
It’s not just the specific day that’s being feared by people around the world. The number 13 also has a negative reputation. Have you noticed that buildings don’t have a 13th floor, hotels don’t have a room number 13, and airports don’t have a gate number 13? It’s also considered unlucky to have 13 people dining on the same table!
Lucky 13 for the Italians
However, not everyone in the world finds the number 13 unlucky. It’s actually the opposite in Italy! Instead of Friday the 13th, Italians believe that Friday the 17th brings them bad luck.
It’s Tuesday, Amigo
For some Spanish-speaking countries, it’s not Friday but Tuesday the 13th or “Martes Trece”. As for the Greeks, they believe that Tuesday is unlucky—especially the 13th—as it is dominated by the god of war Ares’ influence.
National Accident Day
The superstition has had a notable impact in the society that the Finnish government and non-government organizations have declared a National Accident Day in 1995. The event, which always falls on Friday the 13th, aims to promote the importance of automotive safety.
Bad Things Have Happened
There have been unfortunate events that happened on a Friday the 13th that somewhat validate the fear surrounding this day. Some of which include the November 2015 Paris attacks, the deadly cyclone that hit Bangladesh in 1970, the 1972 Chilean Air Force plane disappearance, and the Costa Concordia cruise ship crash in 2012.
Engraved in Pop Culture
Friday the 13th has also spawned numerous multimedia productions. The most famous one is definitely the 1980 movie Friday the 13th, which features the fictional killer, Jason Vorhees. With numerous sequels, video games, and Halloween masks based on the movie, Friday the 13th has continued to be the go-to choice for movie marathons.
The belief about Friday the 13th and many other superstitions may not have scientific explanations and may raise quite a few on-fleek eyebrows. But hey, it won’t hurt to follow it once in a while!