Fun Facts About Friday the 13th

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October 13, 2017

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Whether the occasion of a Friday the 13th fills you with dread or you just find it a weird tradition, the truth is, the number 13 has played a significant role in many cultures throughout history.

Here is our collection of fun and interesting facts about both the number 13 and Fridays, that fall on the 13th day of the month:

Fun Facts About Friday the 13th Scared Man Image

Triskaidekaphobia (triska-deck-a-phobia)

First coined in 1911, the word triskaidekaphobia literally means “fear of 13” in Greek. Today, most tall buildings in Canada “skip” labelling the 13th floor. Instead, the numbering either goes from 12 straight to 14 or an alternate designation like “M” (the 13th letter of the alphabet) or 12-B is used. For example, the Radisson Hotel in Winnipeg, Manitoba labels the 13th floor as the “Pool floor.”

In Ontario, triskaidekaphobia is perhaps higher than anywhere else. Although other provinces have a Highway 13, Ontario does not. 

Friggatriskaidekaphobia (frigga-triska-deck-a-phobia)

Technically speaking, fear of the date, Friday the 13th is called Friggatriskaidekaphobia. The “Frigga” part refers to the Norse goddess Frigga, wife of Odin, the root source of the English word “Friday” (originally, it was Frigga’s Day which was later shortened to Friday). 

Mostly in blog articles discussing superstitions around the date, fear of Friday the 13th is sometimes called paraskevidekatriaphobia (para-skeva-decka-tree-a-phobia) from the Greek word for Friday (paraskevi) and fear of the number 13.

Fun Facts About Friday the 13th Black Cat Image

Unlucky Day

For some people, any occasion involving the number 13 is unlucky, and Friday the 13th of course, is the worst of the worst. Some people think that it originates in an event that occurred on Friday, October 13, 1307, when the King of France launched a surprise mass arrest of the Knights Templar.

Other people point to roots in the Last Supper (which had 13 guests) or a supposition that Jesus died on a Friday the 13th (the Friday part is certain, but the exact date is unknown). 

The earliest documented case of someone believing that Friday the 13th was unlucky was in the biography of Gioachino Rossini, who later died on Friday the 13th. 

Certainly, the first public mention of the unluckiness of the day in English was the publication of Friday the Thirteenth, a novel by Thomas William Lawson in 1907. A highly successful businessman, Lawson was deeply superstitious. In his book, a stockbroker picks Friday the 13th to crash Wall Street.

On this exact day, Friday October 13th of 1989, a Friday, the American stock market suffered its second-worst crash in history. 

There’s No Escape

No matter what, every single year will always have at least one Friday the 13th. But the good news is that no year will ever have more than three. The longest possible interval between any two months with a Friday the 13th is 14 months. 

Blame it on Sunday

Interestingly enough, for there to be a Friday the 13th, the month in question must begin on a Sunday.

It’s Not Always Bad Luck

Fear of the number 13 is largely a northern European tradition. In other countries, 13 is either a neutral or lucky number. For example, a Friday the 13th is good luck in Italy while a Friday the 17th is considered unlucky. In Spain and Greece, it is Tuesday the 13th when you need to watch out for bad luck.

Closer to home, Colgate University in New York was founded by 13 men with 13 articles of incorporation, 13 dollars for the budget, and after reciting 13 prayers. Today, the university’s address is 13 Oak Drive.

Taylor Swift

One of the people who loves the number 13 and every Friday the 13th is American pop star, Taylor Swift. Before every concert, she paints the number 13 on her hand. Why?

  • She was born on the 13th (a Wednesday).
  • She turned 13 on a Friday the 13th (in 2002).
  • Her first album (Taylor Swift) went gold in just 13 weeks.
  • Her first number one single had a 13-second introduction.
  • Every time she’s won an award, she was seated in either seat #13 or row #13 or section 13.

Can’t argue with those numbers!

Movie Time

Did you know that there are no fewer than 12 horror movies in the Friday the 13th franchise? Although few people still find them scary, the central character of Jason Voorhees and his hockey mask is one of the most enduring images in popular culture.

No one is quite sure what will happen should a 13th movie be made.

Money Saver

Airlines fly unchanging schedules throughout the year, including on holidays and Fridays the 13th. If you’re looking for a cheap last-minute fare, you can save a lot of money by flying on a Friday the 13th as many people refuse to travel on those days.

Other Thirteens 

  • Age 13 is when you become a teenager.
  • Facebook, YouTube, and other social media sites require you to be 13 years old to use their services.
  • The ancient Maya calendar used 13-day “weeks”.
  • A baker’s dozen refers to 13 items.
  • A standard deck of playing cards has four suits of 13 cards apiece.
  • The United States had 13 states when it first formed.
  • Today, the American flag still has 13 red and white stripes.
  • “13 Reasons Why” is a best-selling novel and TV mini-series.
  • “Fare la treidici” or “do the 13” means “win the jackpot” in Italian.
  • The famous Hollywood sign was unveiled on Friday, June 13, 1923.
  • Originally, the Hollywood sign said “Hollywoodland”, which has 13 letters.
  • Boxing fights are now restricted to 12 rounds in order to protect boxers from sustaining fatal injuries.

Whether it’s a day of misfortune or simply an expression of irrational superstition, one thing is for certain – the lore and legends surrounding Friday the 13th will continue to intrigue us for generations to come.  

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Photo credits: date circled, cat, fear




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