Origin Of Friday 13th Superstition
January 13, 2012 by staff
Origin Of Friday 13th Superstition, If the thought of merely leaving the house this Friday the 13th has you spooked, you’re not alone. The Stress Management Centre and Phobia Institute, based in Asheville, N.C., estimates that $800 million to $900 million US is lost every time the 13th of the month falls on a Friday, as people avoid doing business or flying.
The official names for fear of Friday the 13th are friggatriskaidekaphobia and paraskevidekatriaphobia. Sufferers can have symptoms as severe as panic attacks.
Stuart Vyse, professor of psychology at Connecticut College, said the superstition that associates Friday the 13th with bad luck is one of the most widespread in Western culture.
An article on the National Geographic website reports that between 17 million and 21 million people in the U.S. suffer from some degree of fear related to the day.
“It has a number of features that keep it alive,” Vyse said. “If you grow up in the West, you can’t avoid knowing it.”
Part of what makes the superstition so pervasive is that having the 13th day of a month fall on a Friday now and then is unavoidable.
“You can go years without seeing a black cat or never walk under a ladder,” Vyse said. “You can’t avoid this one.”
Despite the superstitions, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said there are no statistics showing an increased risk to drivers. In fact, it might be just the opposite.
Here’s a look at some significant things that have happened on a Friday the 13th.
Fidel Castro was born on Friday, Aug. 13, 1926, in Biran, Cuba.
Celebrity twins Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen were born on Friday, June 13, 1986.
Rapper Tupac Shakur died on Friday, Sept. 13, 1996, six days after being shot in Las Vegas.
Daredevil Sam Patch died on Friday, Nov. 13, 1829. Nicknamed “the Yankee Leaper,” Patch died after jumping from the top of the falls of the Genesee River in Rochester, N.Y.
Heavy metal music pioneers Black Sabbath released their self-titled debut album on Friday, Feb. 13, 1970.
The Friday the 13th movie franchise, which spans 12 films, has grossed more than $381 million US in the U.S. alone. Opening days for four of the films in the franchise, which features hockey-mask wearing, machete-wielding killer Jason Voorhees, have fallen on a Friday the 13th.
No one’s exactly sure of the roots of the calendar-based fear, but there are several popular theories.
Some Christians tie together the belief that Judas – who would eventually betray Christ – was the 13th guest at the Last Supper, and Christ was supposedly crucified on a Friday. Other theologians have also theorized that Abel was slain by his brother Cain on Friday the 13th.
Jumping ahead to the 14th century, some believe the fear originated when King Philip IV of France had the Knights Templar arrested on Friday, Oct. 13, 1307. Looking to seize their vast wealth, Philip ordered the mass arrest of members of the Christian military order that had been active in the Crusades. Confessions for a variety of crimes, including heresy, were obtained from them with the help of torture.
This Templar theory has recently gained traction in pop culture as a result of references to it made in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code.
The number 13 is also considered unlucky in Norse mythology, with the mischievous god Loki being the uninvited 13th guest at a banquet of the gods. Loki would eventually trick the blind god Hoder into killing Balder, the god of joy and gladness, plunging the Earth into mourning and darkness.
Ancient Romans weren’t huge fans of 13 either. They believed that witches gathered in groups of 12, and a 13th person joining them would be the devil.
But while there are references throughout history to both Friday and the number 13 being unlucky, there’s evidence that the combination of the two is a creation of the 20th century. An 1898 edition of E. Cobham Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, has entries for both the number and the day, noting both as unlucky but makes no mention of the combination of the two.
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