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Friday the 13th Superstition

Sally Painter

Roots of Superstition About Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th is a superstition that's entrenched in the public consciousness as an unlucky day. The fear of Friday the 13th is believed to be based on the Biblical crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It's no wonder this day of fraught with all kinds of superstitions. Discover the many common fears and warnings of bad luck associated with this infamous date.

Friday Fears

There are a number of old wives' tales surrounding the sixth day of the week. The addition of Friday the 13th took them to a new level of fear and superstition. Just imagine what would happen on Friday the 13th! For example:

  • It's bad luck to begin a journey on Friday.
  • Changing your bed sheets (linens) 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! This date was most probably chosen since it was the day Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, hanged himself.

13: Lucky or Unlucky?

Not all cultures share negative superstitions surrounding this auspicious date. In the Chinese culture, 13 is considered a lucky number since it sounds like the word for long life. 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 the fear of death with 13 becoming a focal point. If Friday is considered a particularly unlucky day of the week, a 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 Last Supper. 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. The cure for this curse is to place the mirror shards in a black cloth bag or wrap in black fabric then bury underneath a tree.

Black Cats and Friday the 13th

Black cats and Friday the 13th were considered a bad combination in French Lick, Indiana. On October 13, 1939, the town ruled all black cats must wear a bell on Friday the 13th. Residents certainly didn't want a black cat crossing their path on that day!

Spilled Salt

Spilling salt is considered bad lucky, especially on Friday the 13th, since it's said that Judas Iscariot spilled salt during the Last Supper with its ties to Friday the 13th. You can try to mitigate your bad luck by throwing a pinch of salt over your shoulder. You just may be able to ward off that double dose of back luck.

Stock Exchange Friday 13th Bad Luck

On October 13, 1989, the stock market suffered a mini-crash that is blamed for the 1990s recession. Friday the 13th is rumored to be a bad day for trading with doumented low trading results, and it's rumored many people steer clear of trading on Friday the 13th.

Careful with the Silverware!

As if Friday the 13th isn't bad luck enough on its own, you can make it worse doing the wrong thing with your eating utensils. Be sure you avoid crossing your fork and your knife. That configuration creates a big X. Since X always marks the spot, don't make it easy for bad luck to find you on Friday the 13th!

Fear of Number 13

Some people have a genuine fear of the number 13. In fact, this phobia has a clinical name, triskaidekaphobia. People suffering from this fear are often viewed as merely being superstitious, although their phobia is well documented. For these people, Friday the 13th is the manifestation of their deepest fear since the superstitions surrounding the date compound their own fears of the number 13!

Demise of Knights Templar

One really horrible event that occurred on a Friday was the capture of the Knights Templar. On Friday, October 13, 1307, the crusaders, who were the official defenders of visitors to the Holy Land, known as the Knights Templar were arrested. King Philip IV of France ordered hundreds of knights imprisoned in his quest to steal their treasure. Many of the knights were tortured and burned at the stake.

No Floor 13 in Some Hotels

The fear of Friday the 13th morphed into a general superstition about the number 13. A reaction to the fear affects so many people some hotels omit the number 13 when assigning floor numbers. Why tempt fate and ?

The Exorcist Author Dies

The movie, The Exorcist, was plagued with all kinds of bad luck and tragedy, such as an accident, fire and two actors dying. The movie was said to be cursed. When the author of the book that inspired the movie, William Peter Blatty, died on Friday, January 13, 2017, his death was perceived by many as part of the curse said to follow The Exorcist.

Unlucky Lightning Strike Is Lucky

One of the freakiest incidences to happen occurred in Suffolk on Friday the 13th. A 13-year-old boy was struck by lightning. The date was Friday, August 13, 2010. The time of the incident was 1:13 pm or more appropriately 13:13 pm. For the boy, all these 13s appear to be more good luck for him since there were no serious injuries sustained.

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

There's a common train of thought that if you expect bad things to happen, they probably will. People tend to remember any bad thing that happens on a Friday the 13th while ignoring and not assigning misfortunes occurring on other day and date combinations. Like all superstitions, various stories and legends, belief in them seems to validate they are real.

Sally Painter
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Friday the 13th Superstition