How Friday The 13th Got Its Spooky Reputation

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Tomorrow is Friday the 13th. While the dreaded combination evokes feelings of unease even among non-believers, for the superstitious, it is the unluckiest day of the year. Their intense fear, dubbed friggatriskaidekaphobia, leads to symptoms that range from mild anxiety to a nagging suspicion of bad luck to full-blown panic attacks. While some of the trepidation can be attributed to the namesake movie series, the day’s ill-fated reputation was well-established long before Jason Voorhees, the film’s hockey-masked villain, first appeared on the big screen in 1980.

Some experts think it all starts with the fear of 13 or Triskaidekaphobia. According to University of Delaware associate policy professor Thomas Fernsler, 13 is considered unlucky because it follows the “perfect” number 12. There are, after all, 12 months in a year, 12 zodiac signs, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus, etcetera.

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Folklore historian Donald Dossey attributes the number’s bad reputation to a myth from the time when the Vikings occupied Scandinavia. A dozen gods were enjoying a quiet dinner party in Valhalla, the mythological Norse heaven, when Loki, the god of mischief, walked in uninvited. According to the legend, he instigated Hoder, the blind god of darkness, into killing Balder, the god of joy and gladness. Dorsey says to this day, Nordic residents avoid dinner parties with 13 guests, for fear that one of them will end up dead.

Legend has it that US President Franklin D. Roosevelt hated the date so much that he never traveled on the 13th nor invited just 13 guests to a meal. American author and humorist Mark Twain became a believer after he was left starving as the 13th guest at a party that had catered food for only 12. The French even go as far as 'renting' a special 14th guest, or quatorzieme, to avert bad luck.

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Friday has its own set of problems. According to the Bible, Jesus was crucified on this day. While the date was not the 13th, it was shortly after his final meal, the “Last Supper,” which featured 13 guests, including Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin for 30 silver coins. Some biblical scholars think that it was on a Friday that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit, though the date is unknown. The only historical event believed to have occurred on Friday the 13th is the slaying of Adam and Eve’s son Abel by his brother Cain. A more recent tragedy was the sinking of the Costa Concordia, the world’s largest passenger ship, on Friday, January 13th, 2012.

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Experts estimate that American businesses lose as much as $900 million every time the 13th falls on a Friday because many people avoid getting on airplanes or making substantial purchases like a home or car. Though bad for the economy, the irrational fear does benefit non-believers. Airlines often offer discounted fares and many retail stores have special deals to attract customers to stores. So, instead of cowering in fear, use the dreaded day to firm up your summer travel or buy the game you have been eyeing for so long.

Happy Friday The 13th

Resources: wikipedia.org, businessinsider.com, history.com

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1115 Comments
  • jazmine2008
    jazmine2008Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at 11:32 am
    wow cool. btw I always wanted to see the movie Friday the 13th but my parents don't allow it :)
    • masmas
      masmasThursday, February 25, 2021 at 11:14 am
      My brother was born on Friday the 13
      • galaxygamer_ty
        galaxygamer_tyTuesday, October 6, 2020 at 8:25 am
        i love the movie friday the 13th
        • wizardgirl
          wizardgirlThursday, August 20, 2020 at 12:59 pm
          animereina2020, I agree. We should always face our fears. I have a fear of singing in front of people, even though my family says I am good. So for the school talent show I uploaded a video of me singing! I still have the fear, just not as much.
          • horse123456
            horse123456Saturday, January 30, 2021 at 5:16 am
            Yeah, I have the same fear. My voice is pretty good, but I wouldn't love it if I had to do a solo
          • wizardgirl
            wizardgirlThursday, August 20, 2020 at 12:55 pm
            I agree with helen0916
            • helen0916
              helen0916Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 12:33 am
              _WOah THAT LOOKS SUPER NOT SCARY
              • helen0916
                helen0916Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 12:28 am
                I am not scared I think people are toooooo overreacting to this spooky reputation thing.
                • iamfanofbears
                  iamfanofbearsWednesday, August 19, 2020 at 9:36 am
                  This year my birthday was on the Friday the 13th
                  • animereina2021
                    animereina2021Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 9:27 am
                    I feel like there should be a goal for all of us, and it is to learn from and conquer our fears. I was so scared of going on roller coasters! But I went on one anyway to see how it would be like, because you never know if you don't try, right? It ended out being fun, but at first I wanted to get off because there was a big drop at the beginning. And a few days ago I went to a fair and there was this ride that swinged side to side, but also spinned at the same time and it turned a 360 degree angle (all the way around)! So that meant I would be turning upside down when it swinged to the very top. I was scared, but I couldn't let my last tickets to to waste, so I went on it and end up having fun! Don't let fear get into the way of everyday things. It is okay to be afraid, but if you conquer them you wouldn't have to worry about it anymore! It can be hard at times, but it is worth it!
                    • renegade5
                      renegade5Wednesday, August 19, 2020 at 8:23 am
                      Thanks @Animerina2020 I will try to conquer my fears !
                      • animereina2021
                        animereina2021Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 8:13 am
                        No problem! It was just an idea, you don't have to do it.
                      • animereina2021
                        animereina2021Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 9:29 am
                        The real thing you should be fearing us the unknown, because you never know, right?
                        • wolfie_uwu
                          wolfie_uwuThursday, August 20, 2020 at 3:36 pm
                          I scared of scorpions so I'm not gonna risk but maybe with a different fear...🤔
                          • coolvae
                            coolvaeWednesday, August 19, 2020 at 9:31 am
                            13 is my lucky number because I was born in 2013 and my family lives in apartment 3 and when my dad put's YOUTUBE I see a picter of him with a 13 on his t-shirt.why dose the number 13 is scary.
                            • animereina2021
                              animereina2021Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 8:13 am
                              Idk... I don't think it is scary, most people choose even numbers as their fav numbers I guess.
                        • l78
                          l78Saturday, May 23, 2020 at 7:21 pm
                          Friday the 13th is a good day! Most people think it's an unlucky day, But it's a Friday!!! Very close to the weekend!!!! Hey you! It's Friday the 13th, but no need to be afraid! No school tomorrow!!!!😀😈❌❌❌