13 things you need to know about Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th is synonymous with all sorts of worries and superstitions. But where do these beliefs come from? Armed with a computer and a whole lot of curiosity, we did the research.
Where does it come from?
The origins of the anxiety surrounding Friday the 13th, commonly known as paraskevidekatriaphobia, has been lost in the mists of time. Some claim a connection with the Last Supper, where Jesus was seated at the table with 12 apostles, for a total of 13 guests. It was the day after this last meal, a Friday, that Christ was crucified.
The most plausible explanation is that, until 1907, there was no particular association between Friday the 13th and bad luck. That year, a novel titled Friday, the Thirteenth was published, and thus began the fear of the unusual day.
Friday the 13th around the world
Not all cultures have the same fear of Friday the 13th. In Spanish-speaking countries and in Greece, for example, it’s actually Tuesdays that fall on the 13th of the month that are reputed to be unhappy or unlucky days. In Italy, Fridays that fall on the 17th of the month send shivers down the spine.
Similar to Halloween, this Friday the 13th-related fear has been spreading around the world over the past few decades thanks to the influence of American culture (and especially thanks to the movies).
This is the pseudo-scientific name for the fear of the number 13. Like many phobias and Western myths, it originates from the Bible. The number of guests at the Last Supper (the 12 apostles and Jesus) could be the source of this mass aversion to the number 13.
In the United States, for example, many buildings and hotels do not have a 13th floor, and many hospitals do not have a room 13. The list goes on…
Friday the 13th in the movies
The Friday the 13th series is the one of the most famous examples of a movie to have used the subject. No less than 12 horror films make up this series, the first of which was released in 1980. These movies feature the villain Jason Voorhees, whose face is concealed behind a hockey mask. Kevin Bacon starred in the first film of the series.
Friday the 13th in research
Studies have been conducted around the world to measure the effects of Friday the 13th. In the United States, for example, the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina estimates that 17 to 21 million Americans suffer from this phobia, to varying degrees. The Center has even estimated the financial losses related to this phobia as between $800 million and $900 million.
The BMJ claims that there are more hospital admissions due to transport accidents on Friday the 13th, and provides figures to back this up. Conversely, the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics says that there are “fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft” on Fridays that fall on the 13th of the month.
It happened on Friday the 13th – Paris attacks
On Friday, November 13, 2015, Paris experienced an unprecedented terrorist attack, only a few months after the Charlie Hebdo attack.
It happened on Friday the 13th – Sinking of the Costa Concordia
On Friday, January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia cruise ship sank off the coast of Giglio, Italy. Of the 4,229 passengers, 32 were killed in the accident.
It happened on Friday the 13th – Uruguayan Air Force crash
On Friday, October 13, 1972, Uruguayan Air Force flight 571 crashed in the Andes, with 45 passengers on board. In order to stay alive, survivors were forced to feed on the bodies of dead passengers, and they were not found until more than two months after the crash. Their story became the subject of a book (later adapted into a film) in the mid-1970s, titled Alive.
It also happened on Friday the 13th
On Friday, September 13, 1996, the rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur died in the hospital after being shot in the streets of Las Vegas.
On Friday, December 13, 1968, the military dictatorship in Brazil was reinforced by the enactment of the Fifth Institutional Act.
On Friday, May 13, 1988, the American jazz trumpeter Chet Baker died after a fatal fall from a hotel room window in Amsterdam.
On Friday, August 13, 2010, at 1:13 p.m., a boy aged… 13 years was struck by lightning while attending an air show in Lowestoft, England. The young man survived.
The most famous case of paraskevidekatriaphobia
Stephen King is certainly the most well-known paraskevidekatriaphobe. But once you familiarize yourself with the biography of the famous author of Christine, The Shining and Carrie, you quickly realize he is afraid of virtually everything. His novels are inspired by an intimate knowledge of fears and phobias.
The big thrill
If you’re not the superstitious type, Finnish airline Finnair usually offers a special flight. First, you’ll have to get yourself to Copenhagen, Denmark. From there, all you’ll need to do is buy a ticket for the 1:20 p.m. flight to Helsinki.
Then, on Friday the 13th, you’ll take flight 666 (yes, that really is the flight number) to HEL (that’s the international code for Helsinki Airport).
A date that keeps coming back
Friday the 13th comes around periodically. Some years, there can be as many as three Friday the 13ths. This was the case in 2012 and 2015. Most of the time, there is only one or two Friday the 13ths in the course of a year. The next year we’ll have to deal with three of these fateful days will be… 2026.
Friday the 13th – a bargain?
Old myths die hard, and that of Friday the 13th is no different. To fight this, some airlines offer special deals to their customers.
Although it’s not openly disclosed by the airlines, studies of airfares reveal that on Friday the 13th, the prices of certain flights in the United Kingdom can sometimes be reduced by 44% compared to typical prices in that same period. A similar phenomenon was also noted in Austria, in France and in Sweden.
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