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Friday the 13th

Updated on December 13, 2013

Friday the 13th: Myth, Superstition, or Reality?

Okay, this lens is not about the slasher movies, so let's get that out of the way. It is about that superstitious, and for many, dreaded day of the year where bad luck is supposed to befall us all.

One of my earliest memories about Friday the 13th as a day other than what is commonly portrayed in the media was when we were in Germany at an army base where my father was stationed. I remember it well; it was a sunny day and I was sitting on the grass outside. A soldier whom I did not know walked by me, looked at me and said "Happy Red Day". I remember thinking to myself...what the hell is he talking about, and then I remembered it was Friday the Thirteenth, and it must be something about this day that he is referring to.

But why did he say that to me? I still don't know that, but what we did find out was that he was the resident Satanist who was on a mission to infiltrate my life at the ripe young age of, oh yeah, did I mention...13?

Sounds like the beginnings of a scary movie, right? Well, nothing crazy happened, we did get to know him a little, and get inside the thinking of a Satanist in the army in Germany at that time. My mother never let me be alone with him and instead engaged in a useful dialogue that prompted me to learn more about the meaning of this Red Day.

So, the purpose of this lens is to pass along some of what I have learned about this fascinating number and day that has infiltrated the psyche of the masses.

The fear of number 13 is the most widespread superstition in Western culture.

The History of Friday the 13th - Blame it on Loki

Loki as depicted on an 18th-century Icelandic manuscript
Loki as depicted on an 18th-century Icelandic manuscript

Apparently, the first recorded mention of a Friday the 13th occurred sometime in the early 1900s. There is no definitive date of the origin of the dreaded day of special misfortune. While there is evidence to suggest that the number thirteen was considered unlucky prior to the 20th century, there is no link between Friday and the number 13.

One theory is proposed by Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina. According to Dossey, who is also a folklore historian, the phobia associated with Friday the 13th is the result of an ancient combination of two separate negative associations with the number 13 and the day Friday.

Apparently, there is a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party at Norse heaven know as "Valhalla". An uninvited 13th guest arrived, the mischievous Loki. Ever the mischievious and trickster entity, Loki manipulated the blind god of darkness Hoder, to shoot the god of joy and gladness Balder the Beautiful, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow.

Then, the whole earth grew dark. Balder died and all of Earth mourned. It was an awfully unlucky day. Since then, the number 13 has been considered ominous and foreboding.


Roach, John. "Friday the 13th Phobia Rooted in Ancient History", National Geographic News, August 12, 2004, p. Page 1. Retrieved on July 13, 2007

The Origin of Friday the 13th

DaVinci Code?

On the other hand, consider this theory made famous through the DaVinci Code: Friday the 13th is the result of a single catastrophic historical event that happened 700 years ago with the decimation of the Knights Templar, the legendary order of "warrior monks" formed during the Christian Crusades to combat Islam. Brought to their demise by the church and state for fictitious crimes such as heresy, blasphemy, various obscenities, and homosexual practices, hundreds of members of the Order died excruciating deaths by torture and burning at the stake.

The DaVinci Code on Amazon - The DaVinci Code on

Friday the 13th FAQS

1. $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do.

(Donald Dossey, Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina)

2. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute estimates that more than 17 million people are affected by a fear of this day.

(Roach, John. "Friday the 13th Phobia Rooted in Ancient History", National Geographic News, August 12, 2004, p. Page 1. Retrieved on July 13, 2007)

3. A British Medical Journal study has shown that there is a significant increase in traffic-related accidents on Friday the 13ths.

(Scanlon TJ, Luben RN, Scanlon FX, Singleton N. Is Friday the 13th bad for your health? British Medical Journal, 1993; Issue 307:1584-6)

4. Every year has at least one and at most three Fridays the 13th, with 48 occurrences in 28 years an average of 1.7 times per year. The reason: twenty-eight years have 336 months and 336 also equals seven times forty-eight.


5. Black Sabbath's self-titled debut album was released in the UK on Friday, February 13, 1970.


6. The asteroid 99942 Apophis will make its close encounter on Friday, April 13, 2029.


7. Hurricane Charley made landfall in Florida on Friday, August 13, 2004.


Paraskavedekatriaphobia - What???!!!

The Fear of Friday the Thirteenth

A word derived from the Greek words meaning Friday, thirteen, and phobia, paraskavedekatriaphobia is simply the fear of Friday the Thirteenth.

Alternative spellings include paraskevodekatriaphobia or paraskevidekatriaphobia, in case you were really interested.

Here is another tidbit of absolutely useless knowledge for the layperson. Friggatriskaidekaphobia is a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, a phobia (fear) of the number thirteen.

The fear of the number 13 is so pervasive in society that it is omitted from addresses and floors of buildings. People may live or work on the 13th floor, but feel safe because it is called the 14th floor.

Now, go forth and impress all of your superstitious friends with your new found knowledge!

Paraskevidekatriaphobic Squid? Or Just Playing it Safe?

Paraskevidekatriaphobic Squid? Or Just Playing it Safe?
Paraskevidekatriaphobic Squid? Or Just Playing it Safe?

Prescription for Paraskevide-katriaphobic People:

Carry the Friday the 13th talisman with you on that day and you will be protected and happy, and all will be well!

Friday the 13th Talisman - Is there such a thing?

You bet there is! Talisman magick goes back infinitesimally in the civilization of humankind, or by some estimates over 4, 120 years. A talisman is a small amulet or other object, often bearing magical symbols, worn for protection against evil spirits or the supernatural. One form of talisman is the Magic Square. A Magic Square is a 4 x 4 square with the sum of each of 4 rows, 4 columns and 2 diagonals always the same, "magic" total. They are found in a number of cultures, including Egypt and India, engraved on stone or metal and worn as talismans, the belief being that magic squares had astrological and divinatory qualities, their usage ensuring longevity and prevention of diseases.

Lucky for the paraskevidekatriaphobic (I know, I'm showing off by using this new big word that frankly I can't even pronounce, but I sure can write it!) there is a Magic Square to protect you from the evil and unfortunate events that seem to befall folks on the fated day. And I am going to put it here on Squidoo, in all its glory so you can copy it, and print it out, and carry it with you, should you feel the need.

Friday the 13th Videos

Is there Such a Thing as Lucky 13?

Consider this, despite its bad luck associations in superstition, the number 13 is considered in a positive light in esoteric traditions. It is the number of mystical manifestation.

For example, the teachings of Jesus are centered on the formula of 12 + 1 (Jesus plus his 12 disciples). According to Pythagoras, one added to 12 creates the unlimited number of 13. It is this formula that allows miracles such as the multiplication of fish and loaves.

Thirteen is the number of the Great Goddess, represented by 13 lunar cycles to a year.

Contemporary witches consider thirteen to be a lucky number.

In the Kabbalistic system, numbers are equated with letters, and the number 13 is equated with love and unity since the Hebrew letters for love and unity both equal 13.

Thirteen is the cosmic law of destiny: death through failure and regeneration.

And hey, let's don't forget the Baker's Dozen...

Okay, so that's not esoteric but it is a good thing, right?


Guiley, R.E. (1999). The Encyclopedia of witches and witchcraft. New York: Checkmark Books.

Bad Luck of the Last Supper?

Leonardo da Vinci's late 1490s mural painting in Milan, Italy
Leonardo da Vinci's late 1490s mural painting in Milan, Italy

The number thirteen is associated with the number of people at the Last Supper. Since the Crucifixion took place on a Friday, this lead to an association of back luck with the combination of this number and day.

Thirteen gathered in the upper room on the night of the Last Supper. 'And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me.' (Mark 14: 17-18). 'Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot . . for he it was that should betray him.' (John 6: 70-71).

Did you know

that the word "superstitious" has 13 letters?

The Death Card - Death (XIII) is a trump card in the tarot deck

Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, also known as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck.
Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, also known as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck.

In the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck, the 13th card is called the Death card. When right-side up, it signifies transformation; a good thing. When upside down, it signifies disaster, upheaval.

Contrary to popular opinion, the Death card rarely signifies an actual death. More often than not, it signifies the end of something, like a relationship or an interest.

Some frequent keywords used by tarot readers are:

* Ending of a cycle ----- Loss ----- Conclusion ----- Sadness

* Transition into a new state ----- Psychological transformation

* Finishing up ----- Regeneration ----- Elimination of old patterns

* Being caught in the inescapable ----- Good-byes ----- Deep change

In the Vikings Tarot, Death is portrayed as the Valkyries, the spirits who rode down to earth after a battle to bring the noble warriors into Valhalla.


No matter what you think...

any year, even leap year, has at least 1 Friday 13th and a maximum of 3 Friday 13s.

So what do you think about Friday the it a good day after all?

Reader Feedback on Friday the 13th

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Interesting lens about Friday the 13th, many things I didn't know about

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      8 years ago

      Enjoyed stopping by to read this.

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      8 years ago

      This is a great and informative lens. Things I did not know about friday 13th. Thanks for sharing this information..

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      9 years ago

      Looks like this was a lot of fun to create. Good job!

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      10 years ago

      I've heard that people said that it is really bad to get married that day because it is bad luck. Generic Viagra Viagra Online Viagra

    • DeniseAlvarado profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise M Alvarado 

      11 years ago from Southwest

      [in reply to rms] Yeah! I love that it is showcased! It was a lot of fun to write. Thank you!

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      11 years ago from USA

      This great lens is today's feature at the Giant Squid Community Showcase!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      whoa. nice lens you got here. sometimes i do believe in this superstition and sometimes i dont. guess i owe it all to a very bad day and turns out its friday the 13th. most would just conclude that they've had a bad day because of the superstition.

    • profile image


      13 years ago

      What a curious and interesting subject for a lens! I love these themes. By the way, I live in Italy where people are really superstitious - here they also have Friday 17th as an unlucky day! 5 stars for originality and lots of info! (Check out my lens on Celtic symbols when you have time and leave me a comment!)


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