Friday the 13th still manages to strike fear into the hearts of many! A sinister fear of misfortune sneaks into the minds of even the most logical of people. Friggatriskaidekaphobia is a fear of Friday the 13th… that’s right, it’s an actual named phobia.
Every year we can expect at least one and a maximum of three, a good rule of thumb here is that if a month starts on a Sunday you are going to get a Friday 13th. Some hospitals and hotels don’t have a 13th floor and you’ll have definitely come across a 12b as opposed to a 13? Airlines feel the brunt of it, with a drop in business on this day and even the stock market feels an effect! And let us not forget a whole franchise of slasher films! ‘Friday the 13th’ was all about the murder and Jason Vorhees has become one of the most recognisable figures in pop culture.
So why is this a thing? Why are people scared of a day? What impact does this have on the world and (most importantly) what weird things have happened on this date?! All the questions!
What weird things have happened on Friday the 13th?
Throughout History Friday the 13th has been feared… And, to be fair, some pretty eeerie things have actually happened. Coincidence? You decide.
Notorious people were born
July 13th, 1821… On this specific Friday, Ku Klux Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest was born. And suffice to say he was notorious for ALL the wrong reasons.
Alfred Hitchcock was born on Friday the 13th… the mastermind behind twisted classics like Psycho, Rear Window and of course… The Birds.
Friday the 13th 1972 is the day that one of the most notorious plane crashes happened. And by notorious I mean gruesome… A plane crashed in the Andes, twelve people died instantly and more were killed in the following avalanche. The survivors were forced to turn to cannibalism to survive. It is these horrific events that inspired the film ‘Alive’. So, what I’m saying is people ate people on Friday the 13th 1972… I mean, if that’s not proof?
Devastating natural disaster
Friday the 13th of November 1970. A cyclone hit Bangladesh killing 500,000 people. This is still one of the most catastrophic natural events to ever happen.
Friday the 13th 2012 saw the sinking of the cruise ship Costa Concordia killing over 30 people! This took place within eyesight of the shore and all because the Captain (who is now facing 16 years in prison) was apparently ‘showing off’…
Friday 13th 2029
Asteroid 99942 Apophis is forecasted to pass earth at a closer distance than any of the satellites we currently have orbiting causing unknown effects and ramifications… yaaaay…
Weird ways to combat bad luck and symbols of good luck
First off, let’s have a look at what brings you good luck:
- Spilling wine: Spilling wine is seen to rectify the bad luck you get from spilling salt and is probably from a time where salt was more valuable than wine. Personally, I’d save the wine but, whatever.
- Ladybugs: They are seen as a symbol of good luck across a lot of cultures! Probably due to the fact that they protect crops and combat against pests like greenfly!
- Itchy Palms: An itchy right hand is apparently a sign that money is coming your way where an itchy left palm is a sign that money may leave.
Actions to combat bad luck:
- Spilled Salt: The Last Supper painting depicts Judas spilling the salt and so it has become associated with bad luck and treachery. Apparently, you can combat it by throwing salt over your left shoulder and into the eyes of the devil (look out for waitstaff whilst doing this)…
- Ladders: A ladder leaning against a wall makes the shape of a triangle and in a (very) ’roundabout’ way is said to be representative of the Holy Trinity… walking through it is seen as desecration. To undo it, walk backwards under the ladder whilst saying a prayer.
- Broken Mirrors: We’ve all heard this one. Break a mirror and face seven years bad luck. This is due to the belief you can see a person’s soul in their reflection and by shattering it, you also shatter their soul. Want to speed the 7 years up? Throw the broken pieces of mirror into a river mouth. Simple.
- Magpies: Across Europe, Magpies are not held in the best regard. This could be due to their aggressive nature towards smaller songbirds and their tendency to do away with shiny objects! A lone magpie is seen to bring bad luck as it is missing its mate, want to make sure this doesn’t happen and look a little crazy all at the same time? Just give it a nod and say “Hello Mr Magpie. How is your wife today?” or something along those lines…
- Brooms: This is something that is thought to have started in the 14th Century when it was believed that witches flew on brooms. Ways to avoid bringing a witch into your house? Make sure to only sweep in daylight hours. Great excuse not to do housework in the winter months.
Where did it all start?
Where does this fear of Friday 13th come from? As with any tradition, it is hard to pinpoint exactly when and where this has come from. The exact origins are vague but we can make an educated guess as to why and where it may have come from… yes, that’s right… I think it is safe to say that this fear mongering superstition may have a firm footing in religion.
Religion has a few digs at the number 13 AND Fridays! (You mean they weren’t into #FridayFeeling?!). The fear of 13 may be down to the thirteenth guest at the Last Supper, who just so happened to be Judas and the fear of Friday may be down to the fact that it is stated that the crucifixion happened on a Friday… Another religious ‘anti-thirteen’ propaganda is Adam and Eve. Eve is said to have tempted Adam on a Friday AND Cain killed his brother Abel on a Friday! Friday was when it all went down in Biblical days apparently! So, add the negative connotation of the number 13 to the already murderous and sinful day of the week and you’ve got yourself a tradition to span the ages!
Though we can’t only hold religion accountable, there is also some science, fact and actual phobia there. Triskaidekaphobia, to be precise. This is literally a phobia and fear of the number thirteen… It is said that the number 13 suffers simply down to its positioning to the number 12. And before we all start hating on the oh-so-righteous number 12 let’s have a look at why this may be. Numerologists consider 12 complete, the number 12 is really popular in ancient and current culture. 12 months in a year, 12 hours on an analogue clock, 12 zodiac signs, 12 Apostles of Jesus, 12 Gods of Olympus… the list goes on. The number 13, therefore, is considered as being unlucky as it signals something that is incomplete or has gone too far.
There is also the whole thing of self-fulfilling prophecy, a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to happen due to the direct influence of belief and behavior. People act differently on Friday the 13th. Whether this is choosing to not travel or to even make any big decisions for fear of it leading to a negative outcome. In doing so, the day itself becomes a day of altered behaviors. It has actually been estimated that around $800 million is lost in business on this day because people don’t continue with business as normal or fly on this day! Aside from the economics of it, it could be argued that the distraction of avoiding an accident could actually lead to one! Ironically, with fewer people being out and about it may actually be one of the safest days of the year… and most accidents actually happen in the home, just saying. Apparently, fewer road traffic accidents happen on this day. Finland holds a National Accident Day on this date to raise awareness around automotive protocols and workplace safety!
And, what about the fact that Friday the 13th is also known as Hangman’s Day. There are 13 steps leading to the gallows and 13 knots in a hangman’s noose. Is this a coincidence or a ‘chicken egg’ or rather ‘hangman unlucky 13’ situation?
Why is it a thing? Where does superstition come from?
Straight to the point, why is this even a thing? Well, believe it or not, behavioral scientists have found that non-believers CAN be affected by superstition! Studies have shown that both superstitious believers and oh-so-wise nonbelievers believe that you can jinx a situation and that by doing so a more negative outcome is likely. So people admit that they feel more nervous if stating something like ‘I will definitely not get into a car accident today’. The reason for this? Well, by stating it, you have brought the worst outcome to the forefront of your mind, you have made it an accidental focus and so more likely to happen. This behavior and jinxed statements are more rife on a day that culturally dictates a day of bad luck. It has also been found that people feel better once ‘unjinxing’ with an action like knocking on wood. We’re all guilty of it.
The idea of bad luck and the sensationalism of superstition isn’t all bad though. It is thought that in doing so we have created a ritual with which to take control of day-to-day events. We settle our minds in an otherwise completely uncontrollable situation… We’ve all thrown salt over our shoulder, walked backward over three grates or touched wood, and these tiny little actions or indicators of control show us taking a physical action against bad luck. No, it may not weigh in on anything in reality BUT its a signal to ourselves that we’ve taken a step away from the wrong path. In doing so, we have undone the jinx and, if it’s true that by imagining something to happen makes it more likely, surely you’ve removed it from your mind and so lessened the chances? In it’s simplest form, superstitions allow us to take control in a world that does not offer much control over outside influence. Either that or you really did throw salt in the eyes of the devil…
Yeah, stupid right? *Throws salt over shoulder, turns around and touches the ground, finds the nearest ladder to pray under buys black cat*