Friday the 13th is a day so full of superstition about bad luck that many buildings throughout the world – except, China where it is a lucky number – don’t even have 13th floors. People who are afraid of the date are said to suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia (the irrational fear of Friday the 13th). Yet it is more than just an overall fear; there are specific issues of concern and consequences in ‘superstition land’ if certain actions are taken. Here we take a look at both the superstition as a whole and 10 bad luck behaviors for the day.
Image: William Murphy
10. If you pass a funeral procession on Friday the 13th, you will die the next day.
Friday and the 13th were both associated with capital punishment in old Britain. Friday was the day for public hangings, and there were 13 steps leading up to the noose (as well as 12 twists to a traditional hangman’s noose). The fear of Friday the 13th is the most widespread superstition in the world today. Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychologist who specializes in phobias, estimates that there are 21 million Americans who suffer from the fear.
Image: Kevin McGrew
If this little girl knew about the unlucky Friday the 13th belief that death awaited a family member, we could understand her tears.
9. If you cut your hair on Friday the 13th, it results in the death of a family member.
In superstition, legends and fables, both the day Friday and the number 13 are considered unlucky. As many theories as there are about how the two converged into one unlucky date, it might be as simple as accrual. Two unlucky days are combined to make the date unluckier than any other.
Image: Luz Villa
8. Ships setting sail on Friday the 13th will encounter disaster.
This has an interesting ‘proof’ in the fate of the HMS Friday. The British Government wanted to shoot down the superstitious belief among seamen for good, so commissioned the ship. David Emery of About.com says: “They laid her keel on a Friday, launched her on a Friday, selected her crew on a Friday and hired a man named Jim Friday to be her captain. To top it off, H.M.S. Friday embarked on her maiden voyage on a Friday, and was never seen or heard from again.”
Image: Stuart Axe
This oil depot fire would be a good example of a disaster for a new business.
7. Starting a business on Friday will result in a disaster.
Fridays are also seen to be unlucky in the Bible: it was the day that Eve tempted Adam; the day of the Great Flood was a Friday; the Crucifixion took place on a Friday; God tongue-tied those who built the Tower of Babel on a Friday; and the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday, as well. Needless to say, devout Christians have little reason to consider the day just one among many.
Image: Badr Naseem
6. If you were born on Friday the 13th, your entire life will be plagued by bad luck.
While we reckon most of us find this hard to believe, there are many instances of bad luck in anyone’s life that some put down to their birth date.
Image: Frances Lane
5. Consulting an astrologer on Friday the 13th is a very bad idea.
In astrology, there are 12 signs of the zodiac as well as 12 months in a year, which might have given rise to this particular superstition. Thirteen was once considered a perfect number, and there is a theory that men purposefully turned it into anathema. According to David Emery: “Thirteen had been revered in prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures, we are told, because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). The “Earth Mother of Laussel,” for example — a 27,000-year-old carving found near the Lascaux caves in France often cited as an icon of matriarchal spirituality — depicts a female figure holding a cresent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches. As the solar calendar triumphed over the lunar with the rise of male-dominated civilization, it is surmised, so did the “perfect” number 12 over the “imperfect” number 13.”
Image: George Foster
4. If you leave the calendar on Friday the 13th, a witch will kill you the next day.
The Norse goddess Frey (Friday) was turned into a witch during the post-pagan religiosity. And legend has it that witches of the North used to gather in groups of 12, until one day Freya came down and gave them one of her cats, making the coven number 13. Some think the thirteenth member of the coven was actually the devil.
Image: lynne-anne bruns
It is hard to believe that anyone would have a bad dream in this beautiful bedroom!
3. If you change your bed on Friday the 13th, you will have bad dreams all night.
The superstitions around Friday the 13th have become greater over the years. In a 1898 book on superstitions and fables, the date didn’t even appear originally, even though unlucky Friday and the number 13 did separately. It seems that as the population grew, more and more people believed the particular date to be unlucky.
Image: William Cho
2. Starting a trip on a Friday will bring misfortune.
Perhaps the most famous example of unlucky 13 is the Apollo 13 mission. It was launched at 13.13 hours and was aborted on April 13. Just as with HMS Friday, it does make one wonder what possessed NASA to launch at that particular time or to make a point of thwarting the popular superstition – not because the date does cause bad luck, but because any disaster would strengthen the fear.
Image: Janos-Csonger Kerekes
An eerie photograph that makes you wonder if the nails were cut on Friday the 13th, as the hand looks like it belongs to a dead person.
1. Cutting your nails on Friday the 13th brings you very bad luck.
A very unlucky Friday the 13th occurred in the Middle Ages. Friday the 13th, 1306 was the day that King Philip arrested the Knights Templar, torturing them in a “day of evil”.
As we have seen, there are myriad myths and facts that all combine to make Friday the 13th a day of superstitious beliefs. Some governments even remove the number 13 from their own doings – for example, Italy removed it from its national lottery. With Friday traditionally considered an unlucky day and the number 13 considered unlucky too, it’s no wonder that the fear of this day is the most widespread superstition alive today. What is more mysterious is why it has more power now than it did 100 years ago.