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.

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.

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.

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.

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.




  1. good read! I guess it was Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code that first tought me this little fact about friday the 13th.

    I’m not superstitious, but it’s fun to see how a lot of people really seem to avoid these dates when it comes to planning important meetings or weddings and such

    • natalina

      It is interesting how deeply some believe that a date holds particular powers over their destiny. I recall reading about the Templars in Davinci Code as well, now that you mention it. Looking forward to Angels and Demons?

  2. Superstitions.
    Only something from out minds? Maybe.
    Here’s how I think:
    If you believe that something bad will happen BECAUSE it’s a specific day than ANY bad event that occurs will be associated to that day and you’ll find yourself blaming this day.
    For instance, you’re preparing a meal and you accidentally cut yourself while handling a knife. If this happens on Friday 13th than it’s because this day is a bad luck day but if this happens on Monday 2nd it’s because you weren’t paying attention or were doing things in a rush, not because of bad luck.
    See what I mean?
    The same goes for horoscopes, good luck day and others that I don’t remember.

    • natalina

      I think you have a great point, shadowmoon87. Is it possible that what we consider good and bad luck is just the manifestation of our subconscious mind, which already believes it knows what is going to happen? Interesting.

  3. There’s also the “13 in a witches’ coven” reason, propagated by the early church, though that itself might even have been based on the Last Supper thing.

    By the way, the baker’s dozen has a much more sensible explanation as well: bakers always baked one extra, in case one got burned, dropped, damaged or otherwise became unsellable. :)

  4. Meaghan

    I usually have good luck on Friday the 13th, rather than bad.

  5. emily

    i believe but bad luck dosen’thappen to me beacause i was at my nana’sone day on the thirteenth and her cat is black and it walked past me i walked under a ladder again nothing happened and we brought new shoes and put them on a table and nothing happened

  6. chris

    i think you are a lie and a half

  7. shelley

    I think Friday the 13th is like any other day. I also think you are crazy to believe that day is bad luck. I focus more on 666. That is bad luck. I guess it depends on your culture and how you look at stuff. I am a christian and I also believe you cant go along with that. If god died on a friday and it was on the 13th to me thats not bad luck. Thats god keeping his promise to me. He died so I could live forever.That had to be my luckiest day ever. I will one day go to be with him because of it. Live it like it was good day thats what he wants and to live life right.

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