1. It’s Unclear Why It Is Feared : Very little is known about the origins of the day’s notoriety. Some historians believe that the superstitions surrounding it arose in the late 19th century. The first documented mention of the day can be found in a biography of Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday the 13th. A 1907 book, Friday the Thirteenth, by American businessman Thomas Lawson, may have further perpetuated the superstition.
2. Yet, the Fear Is Very Real : So real that one scientific name wasn’t enough. The fear of Friday the 13th is also called friggatriskaidekaphobia or paraskevidekatriaphobia. Now say that 10 times really fast! Friggatriskaidekaphobia comes from Frigg, the Norse goddess of wisdom after whom Friday is named, and the Greek words triskaideka, meaning 13, and phobia, meaning fear. Paraskevidekatriaphobia is also derived from Greek: paraskeví translates as Friday, and dekatria is another way of saying 13. Many high-rise buildings, hotels, and hospitals skip the 13th floor, and many airports do not have gates numbered 13. In many parts of the world, having 13 people at the dinner table is considered bad luck.
4. Friday the 13th Can Come in Threes : A bit of bad news for all of you who suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia—all years will have at least one Friday the 13th. The good news is that there cannot be more than three Friday the 13ths in any given calendar year. The longest one can go without seeing a Friday the 13th is 14 months.
5. Fittingly, Alfred Hitchcock Was Born on the 13th : The master of suspense was born on August 13, 1899—so Friday, August 13, 1999, would have been his 100th birthday. He made his directorial debut in 1922 with a movie called Number 13. Unfortunately, the film was doomed from the start and never got off the ground due to financial troubles. Other celebrities and well-known personalities born on a Friday the 13th include actors Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen; novelist and playwright, Samuel Beckett; and former President of Cuba, Fidel Castro.
6. It’s an Unlucky Day Only for Some : Friday the 13th is not universally seen as a day of misery. For example, in Italy, Friday the 17th and not Friday the 13th is considered to be a day that brings bad luck. In fact, the number 13 is thought to be a lucky number! In many Spanish speaking countries and in Greece, Tuesday the 13th is seen as a day of misfortune.
7. The Day Inspired One of the Highest-Grossing Film Series : The commercially successful Friday the 13th enterprise includes 12 horror movies, a television series, and several books that focus on curses and superstitions. Even though the films and the television series consistently received negative reviews from critics, they have a considerable following. The mask worn by the key character in the movies, Jason Voorhees, is one of the most known images in popular culture.
8. …And a Country to Raise Safety and Accident Awareness : Since 1995, Finland has dedicated one Friday the 13th in a year to observe National Accident Day. The day aims to raise awareness about safety—on the roads, at home, and at the workplace.
9. An Asteroid Will Safely Fly By the Earth in 2029 : On a Friday the 13th! Friday, April the 13th, 2029, to be exact. When 99942 Apophis was discovered in 2004, it was thought to have a small chance of colliding with Earth. But you can rest easy because since then, scientists have revised their findings which show that there is absolutely no risk of the asteroid impacting the Earth or the Moon.
10. Some bad things happened in history that day :
- September 13, 1940: The German bombing of Buckingham Palace
- March 13, 1964: The murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens, New York
- November 13, 1970: A cyclone killed more than 300,000 people in Bangladesh
- October 13, 1972: The disappearance of a Chilean Air Force plane in the Andes
- September 13, 1996: The death of rapper Tupac Shakur
- January 13, 2012: The Costa Concordia cruise ship crashed off the coast of Italy, which killed 30 people
11. Unluckiest day in history : If you think your Friday the 13th is likely to be bad, be glad you aren’t a 14th-century Knight Templar(opens in new tab). On Oct. 13, 1307, officers of King Philip IV of France raided the homes of thousands of these Crusades warriors, imprisoning them on charges of illegal activities. Though the charges weren’t proven, more than a hundred died of terrible torture, according to “Tales of the Knights Templar”
12. A group was formed to debunk superstition : In the 1880s, the Thirteen Club was formed to debunk the superstition around number 13. Every 13th of the month, 13 members of the group would sit on the table for dinner, do everything that’s otherwise considered ominous — such as breaking mirrors and throwing salt — and record how many members die over time. Eventually, it became a 400-member group, that included a number of US presidents.
13. And finally : Every year has at least one and at most three Friday the 13ths. For a month to have a Friday the 13th, the month must begin on a Sunday. The longest period that can occur without a Friday the 13th is fourteen months.