Why is Friday the 13th unlucky? History of the superstition explained - and unfortunate events that have happened on the date

Friday and the number 13 have long been considered unlucky, however the belief that together they create a day of misfortune is relatively new

In recent years, it’s been widely accepted in the Western world that Friday the 13th brings bad luck.

From films and books named after the date, to biblical references and a series of famous unfortunate events, there is mounting evidence that you should stay home on Friday 13.

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But why is this specific date considered unlucky, and is there any truth in our fears? Here’s what you need to know.

Friday 13 is steeped in superstition
Friday 13 is steeped in superstition

Why is number 13 considered unlucky?

‘Unlucky 13’ has been a superstition since the middle ages when Christians associated it with the number of guests at the last supper - the night before Jesus was crucified.

Judas, the 13th guest to attend the dinner,betrayed Jesus.

Coupled with the fact that there was no 13th rule in the Code of Hammurabi (one of the earliest written rule books written in the 18th century B.C) - the number was deemed to bring bad luck and even death or tragedy.

The bad luck expected on the 13th day of the month is in contrast to the positivity associated with the number 12, such as the 12 days of Christmas, 12 months and zodiac signs, 12 labours of Hercules, and the 12 gods of Olympus.

There has been an unwritten rule for centuries that you should not dine as a group of 13, and recent statistics show that people tend to take greater care on the 13th day of the month.

Why is Friday an unlucky day?

Similar to the number 13, Friday has long been deemed a day of bad luck and tragedy, and this is thought to come from the Christian belief that Jesus was crucified on Good Friday.

Other biblical references could also be linked to the connotations of doom and dread surrounding Friday. For example, Eve gave the poisoned apple to Adam on the first Friday, while Cain also killed Abel on a Friday.

In Britain, Fridays were also considered Hangman’s Day for centuries as it was usually the day prisoners sentenced to death would be hanged.

So is Friday 13 unlucky?

The belief that Friday 13th brings bad luck is relatively new, dating back only about 100 years.

Author Thomas William Lawson published his novel Friday, the Thirteenth in 1907, telling the story of a fictional stockbroker who used the day to wreak havoc on Wall Street, making a killing -of the financial kind.

It is the most feared day in western countries, with famous leaders also believing the superstition.

Winston Churchill refused to sit on the 13th row of a plane or theatre, while Franklin D. Roosevelt never dined with 12 others and avoided travelling.

In 1980, horror movie Friday the 13th, directed by Sean S. Cunningham, added to the superstition and fear around the unlucky date.

Today, some hotels skip the 13th floor and some streets do not include a 13th house.

Fear of the day now even has a psychological diagnosis - paraskevidekatriaphobia.

What unfortunate events have happened on Friday 13th?

In recent history, various unfortunate incidents have taken place on Friday the 13th.

In September 1940, Buckingham Palace was bombed by Hitler’s army during WW2, killing one and destroying the royal chapel.

In the same year in Bangladesh on Friday 13 September, a cyclone killed 300,000 people.

One of the most famous tragedies of the day was the Uruguayan Air Force plane which crashed in the Andes in October, 1972 on Friday the 13th

Although 16 of the 45 passengers on board survived, they had to eat the dead passengers to stay alive.

Rapper Tupac Shakur was killed after a drive-by shooting on September 7, he survived for six days until he passed on Friday, September 13, 1996.

ISIS also added to the fear of the day when the terrorist organisation launched attacks on Paris on Friday 13 November 2015, killing 130 people.

Potentially one of the unluckiest men of all time, Welsh bus conductor Bob Renphrey had a string of unlucky events on seven different Friday the 13ths throughout the 1990s. These included writing off four cars, losing his job, falling into a river, crashing a motorcycle, and walking through a plate glass door.

Is Friday the 13th unlucky across the world?

Although Friday 13 is the most feared day in the UK and America, other countries have different versions.

In China, the fourth of the month is considered unlucky as the word for four in chinese sounds similar to death.

Meanwhile, Spanish people find Tuesday the 13th unlucky and Italians believe Friday the 17th is the most dreaded day.

How many Friday 13ths are there this year?

There will be two in 2020, one in March and the other Friday 13 November.

Friday 13 always falls when a month begins on a Sunday, which occurs at least once a year.

The maximum it can occur is three times, such as in 2012 and 2015.