Why is Friday the 13th considered unlucky and where did the superstition come from? – The Sun

FRIDAY the 13th is regarded by some as a day of bad luck and catastrophe, with superstitious types doing everything they can to avoid things going wrong.

However, the superstition is not a new one, with apprehension around Friday the 13th dating back to the twelfth century, and even to Biblical times.

Why is Friday the 13th considered unlucky?

The belief that Friday the 13th is unlucky dates back hundreds of years, with the tradition said to have begun in the Middle Ages or even Biblical times.

Some say the superstition arose from Jesus’s Last Supper, where there were 13 people present – which led to his death.

Thanks to a string of events that have occurred on this day, many feel it is jinxed and pay particular care to avoid catastrophe where possible.

The fear is so widespread – an estimate suggests between 17 and 21 million Americans are afraid of the day – that psychologists have even come up with a word for Friday the 13th worriers: paraskavedekatriaphobia.

When does the date next fall?

Every decade there are about 20 Friday the 13ths.

The good news is that there won't be another Friday 13th until May 2022.

Where did the superstition come from?

One of the most popularised stories surrounding the origin of the superstition was when multitudes of Knights Templar were captured and tortured in France in 1307 on Friday, October 13.

In his Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer also referred to the unlucky day, saying that starting a journey or a project on a Friday is bad luck.

And according to Thomas Fernsler, a University of Delaware professor, the fear of the number 13 comes from it following 12, which is seen as a more "safe number".

Twelve is seen as a more complete number, as there were 12 apostles and we have 12 months and 12 zodiac signs.

As a result of the fear of the number 13, many buildings and hotels, such as the Carlton in London, skip having a 13th floor entirely.

The number 13 is also often associated with witchcraft, as it is deemed the number of witches you need to form a coven.

Also, French King Philip IV would torture victims on Friday the 13th.

Likewise, in Britain, many public hangings took place on this day.

What bad things have happened on Friday the 13th?

Some have argued it's not all silly superstition, as several deadly plane crashes and grisly murders have happened on this day.

1. Legendary rapper Tupac Shakur died on Friday, September 13, 1996, six days after being shot in a Las Vegas drive-by.

It was one of hip-hop's biggest tragedies but the murder remains unsolved, leading to hundreds of different conspiracy theories, including arguments that the music producer isn’t actually dead.

2. On Friday 13, 1976, a man was killed when the roof of his flat caved in.

Spookily, Daz Pearson had chosen to stay home because he had a bad feeling something was going to happen to him.

3. Experts at The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina have previously estimated that over £700million is lost every year because people miss work over Friday 13th superstitions.

But the biggest money crisis occurred in a mini crash on October 13, 1989.

It was the Dow Jones Industrial Average's second largest crash to date.

4. The life of a daredevil is always precarious, but the death of Sam Patch has left conspiracy theorists talking for centuries.

In 1829, The Yankee Leaper attempted to jump from 125 feet into Niagara River, near the Falls.

Over 8,000 onlookers gathered to watch the terrifying spectacle, but Sam never surfaced again.

5. The world was shocked when Kitty Genovese was brutally stabbed and raped by a stranger on March 13, 1964.

Horrifically, the attack lasted for over 30 minutes – during which time 38 witnesses walked past without phoning the police.

Following the brutal murder, psychologists coined the term the "bystander effect", which is now used to explain how people in crowds are less likely to help those in need.

6. On Friday October 13, 1972, a plane crashed in the Andes killing 12 people.

The 16 survivors were forced to eat the bodies of the dead victims in order to keep themselves alive until they were rescued.

7. During World War II, the Nazis dropped five bombs on Buckingham Palace on September 13, 1940.

One person died when bombs struck the London landmark, taking out the Royal Chapel and destroying the water main.

Luckily, the now Queen Elizabeth II and King George VI weren’t present at the time of the attack.

8. On July 13, 1877, the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest, was born.

9. The Bhola cyclone struck Bangladesh and India, killing 500,000 people on Friday, November 13, in 1970.

10. The original Black Friday occurred in 1989 on Friday, October 13, when a failed buyout deal for United Airlines’ parent company fell through sending global markets plunging.

11. In 2012, the Costa Concordia sank on Friday, January 13, causing the death of 32 people.

The cruise liner was carrying more than 4,000 people when it hit a rock off the coast of Italy.

12. On Friday, October 13, 1307, thousands of Crusader warriors were imprisoned and later tortured by officers of the French King Philip IV.

13. Devastating bush fires tore through Victoria in Australia on January 13, 1939.

The fire caused 36 fatalities in just one day with the flames destroying 75 per cent of the state.

How many Friday The 13th movies are there?

The phobia of the date has been translated into a hugely successful Hollywood horror film series called Friday The 13th.

Since 1980 the franchise has spawned 12 slasher movies focusing on the fictional character of Jason Voorhees, whose hockey mask has become a recognisable symbol for the series.

However the twelfth film, made in 2009, is just a remake of the original.

Before the movies existed, the most famous cultural reference to the date was a book by Thomas Lawson, published in 1907.

The Friday the Thirteenth novel centres around a stockbroker who attempts to crash the stock market on the unluckiest day of the year.

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