Friday the 13th: Origins and Facts
In honor of today’s unlucky date, I thought it would be fun to take a look at just what makes Friday the 13th so notoriously gloomy.
Fear of the number 13 is called triskaidekaphobia. The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia. There are many theories as to the origins of this phenomena, but some seem more credible than others. The one that has gained the most traction over the years goes all the way back to the days of the Knights Templar.
The Knights Templar were a religious military order founded in Jerusalem in 1118 C.E.. Their sworn mission was to protect Christian pilgrims during the Crusades. They gained great power, wealth, and notoriety over the next two centuries. Because of their increasing power and monopoly of riches, King Philip began to feel threatened, and arranged a mass arrest of all the Templar Knights. Once in custody, they were charged with spitting on the cross, worshiping Baphomet, and sodomy. Legend has it that the Knights along with their Grand master Jacques De Molay were tortured by all means available during the inquisition, and eventually executed. These fateful events took place on Friday, October 13, 1307.
It is not clear whether or not the story of the demise of the Knights is the true origin of the Friday the 13th superstition in the Western World. What is certain is that for some people this perilous day holds great meaning; they believe it is wise to take great care with the activities of the day, lest they succumb to some impending doom that awaits.
13 Facts about Friday the 13th
1. Many Christians have long believed that Friday was unlucky because it was the day of the week when Jesus was crucified. The number 13 was believed to bring bad luck because there were 13 people at The Last Supper. Since there were 12 tribes of Israel, that number was considered lucky. Infoplease.com
2. President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13. MSNBC.COM
3. 2009 is considered a particularly unlucky year, as today is one of three “Friday the 13ths” that will occur. The other was in February, and the next is in November. This is so rare, it only happens once every 11 years.
4. Ancient Romans regarded the number 13 as a symbol of death, destruction and misfortune.
5. Lizzie Borden, the famous murderess who killed her family with “30 Whacks” of an axe, is said to have uttered exactly 13 words at her trial. (Although prior to her trial she was asked a series of questions which judges ruled inadmissible. It’s a fascinating read: The Inquest Testimony of Lizzie Borden., 1892)
6. There are 13 steps that lead to the gallows, 13 knots in a hangman’s noose, and blade of a guillotine falls 13 feet.
7. A “quatrorzieme” is a professional 14th guest hired by the French who had only 13 guests in attendance for dinner, who felt that was unlucky. netlimse.com
8. British study concluded that even though there were less cars on the road on Friday the 13th (as compared with other Fridays) more accidents were reported.
9. Most Hospitals do not have a Room 13, and most hotels do not have a 13th floor. They skip from the 12th floor to the 14th.
10. Many Cruise ships and ocean liners dock their ships until Friday the 13th has passed.
11. It’s been estimated that $800 or $900 million (U.S.) is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do. scribd.com
12. The British Navy built a ship named Friday the 13th. On its maiden voyage, the vessel left dock on a Friday the 13th and was never heard from again.
13. A baker’s dozen consists of 13 for a reason! So the story goes a witch near Albany, NY demanded 13 items every time she came in to a particular bakery, and one day the old baker could not afford her extra biscuit. She sneered some strange words at the man, and he suffered terrible luck from then on, until he brought her another 13 rolls. After that life was once again easy for the baker and word spread around town. The custom is still sometimes practiced today. screamforme.com
Now, in traditional fashion… I’ll ensure this post isn’t super unlucky by adding one final freaky fact…
14. Infamous murderers Charles Manson, Harold Shipman, Frederick West, Saddam Hussein, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Theodore Bundy, and Jack the Ripper each have 13 letters in their names.