Friday the 13th Superstition

Roots of Superstition

Most people have heard a variety of Friday the 13th superstitions, but it's a bit difficult to trace how these superstitions became so entrenched in the public consciousness. Although fear of the number 13 can be documented well back to ancient times, the fear surrounding Friday the 13th on the calendar really seems to be a modern phobia rooted in the late 19th century. Learn about some of the common fears and superstitions associated with this infamous date.

Friday Fears

There are a number of old wives' tales surrounding the sixth day of the week. For example:

  • It's bad luck to begin a journey on Friday.
  • Changing your sheets on Friday will make you have bad dreams.
  • It's bad luck in some cultures to be born on a Friday.

Additionally, Friday used to be "Hanging Day" in Britain, so it was certainly unlucky for some!

13: Lucky or Unlucky?

It may come as a surprise, but not all cultures share negative superstitions surrounding this auspicious date. In Chinese culture, 13 is considered a lucky number. The ancient Egyptians associated the number 13 with the afterlife, a situation they actively prepared for and anticipated. Somewhere along the way, it seems positive anticipation of the afterlife gave way to a fear of death with 13 becoming a focal point. If Friday is considered a particularly unlucky day of the week, Friday falling on the 13th must be a double whammy for the superstitious.

The 13th Dinner Guest

There is an old adage that says you should never invite 13 guests for dinner or one will die. Perhaps the most famous example cited as the basis for this superstition is the fact that there were 13 attendees at the Last Supper of Christ, and Jesus was subsequently crucified the next day, Friday.

Friday the 13th Superstitions

According to one widespread superstition, breaking a mirror on the dreaded date will result in seven years bad luck. However, there is a laundry list of such superstitions to consider.

Black Cats

Another traditional warning: Never let a black cat cross your path on this day, or bad luck will ensue.

Salt

If you spill the salt on this particular Friday, you're supposed to throw a pinch of salt over your shoulder to ward off back luck.

Ladders

Never walk under a ladder on the 13th or you may suffer dire consequences. In fact, this probably isn't a safe idea on any day of the week.

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

There's a common train of thought that if you expect bad things to happen, they probably will. Could it also be that because this date is so famous, we tend to remember any bad thing that happens on any Friday the 13th? After all, misfortunes have occurred on any other combination day and date, but no one assigns them any special significance. One thing remains assured; the superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th aren't likely to fade from the public conscience any time soon.

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Friday the 13th Superstition