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things you can't unlearn: Friday the 13th

Updated on November 11, 2012

When a month starts on a Sunday, you will have a Friday the 13th. It’s that simple. Even so, the day has such a reputation that doctors have given the day its own fear: friggatriskaidekaphobia. Studies show that at least 17 million people fear this particular day.

To the surprise of many, it starts with Friday. Friday has not always been considered a good day. There are several examples throughout history that show an apprehension with Fridays, especially with sailors and travelers who claim that starting a trip on Friday is very bad luck. Another surprise to all shoppers, black Friday actually refers to one of many hundreds of historical disasters that have happened on a Friday. Finally, Christian scholars say that Christ was crucified on a Friday.

Friday may have a bum rap, but according to most experts, the apprehension propagates with the number thirteen. Speaking from a psychologist’s point of view, it is a number that follows a complete number: the number 12. There are 12 months in a year, 12 zodiac signs, 12 in a dozen, and even 12 hours on a clock. It would seem that 13 has no place in day to day activities.

Still, scholars argue that there is a whole host of religious events that may influence the masses further. Christian experts say that it may be from the story 13 people who attended the last supper. A Muslim expert said that the Jewish people captured Jerusalem on Friday the 13th. The Mayan calendar brings forth the 2012 phenomenon by the 13th baktun*. The ancient Babylon's Code of Hammurabi created a list of rules on how a person should be and they omitted rule number 13. This is proof that the fear goes way back in history of at least 1700 BC. On the other hand, Judaism regards the number 13 as a very lucky number.

It also appears that experts can’t agree as to when the fear of Friday and the 13th got together and took hold of the masses. However, there are a lot of very good speculations. In 1907 there was a book called “Friday the 13th” where an evil businessman tried to crash the stock market on said “unluckiest” day of the month. Of course there is the notorious “Friday the 13th” horror series. There was also a notorious British editorial that concluded a change in accidents and travel on Friday the 13th, but that was later said by the writers to be a spoof. With this evidence at hand, the experts can agree, there is no sure-fire way to collect data of incidents increase or decrease of happenings. This is mainly because it is estimated that people with the fear of Friday the 13th purposely avoid participating in regular activities. Several experts estimate that stores lose millions of dollars because of people’s refusal to act normally.

As silly as it sounds, rational people believe that a certain day of the week can have magical powers over us. Ultimately, it has less to do with the history and more to do with personal experience. What do you think; crazy, or a caution that can’t hurt?


*for more info on the baktun, check my next posting and we will explain it in better detail

Remy Melinda (12 May 2011 ) “The Numbers Speak: Is 13 Really Unlucky?” for

Claire Suddath (13 Feb 2009) “Friday the 13th” for,8599,1879288,00.html

Jenny Cohen (13 may 2011) “Friday the 13th: History of a Phobia” for

John Roach (12 Aug 2004) “Friday the 13th Phobia rooted in ancient history” for


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    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 5 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      Great topic and well writen.

    • Karmallama profile image

      Doreen Lucky 5 years ago from St. Paul, minnesota

      I would consider it a lucky day too with that kind of history :) Thanks again for the visit

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      Interesting hub. My youngest son was born on Friday 13th so I consider it a very lucky day. Thanks for the information regarding why it may be surrounded by superstition and fear.