How Friday The 13th Got Its Spooky Reputation

By on

CCSS NCSS-1 Word Search
Photo Credit: realdepartment.com

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.

Image Credit: Succo via Pixabay.com CCO

Folklore historian David Dorsey 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.

Image Credit: michelinam.wordpress.com

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.

Photo Credit: slideshare.net

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

Generate citations in MLA, APA & Chicago formats for this article.

VocabularyPlay Game

apostlecoweringcrucifieddreadedevokeshumoristinstigatedirrationalmythmythologicalnaggingnamesakenordicsubstantialsuperstitioustragedytrepidation
Name:
Date:

Reading Comprehension (11 questions)

  1. What do the superstitious think of Friday the 13th?
  2. What is the name given to the fear of Friday the 13th?
Name:
Date:

Critical Thinking Challenge

What, if anything, are you superstitious about? How you do overcome your...

Name:
Date:

Vocabulary in Context

“Though bad for the economy, the irrational fear does benefit non-believers.”

In the above sentence, the word irrational most likely means:

(a) not in accordance with reason;...

990 Comments
Sign in to use your custom avatar.
  • natepekMonday, September 10, 2018 at 9:21 am
    very interesting
    • hiThursday, September 6, 2018 at 9:54 am
      this kinda scared me
      • kitten crazyWednesday, August 29, 2018 at 9:48 am
        that was so cool, but I know black cats are not unlucky. I love them sooo much there so cute and adorable!!!!!!
        • kitten crazyTuesday, August 28, 2018 at 8:17 am
          that was so cool, but I know black cats are not unlucky. I love them sooo much there so cute and adorable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
          • Alien Thursday, August 23, 2018 at 3:25 pm
            I found it kind of creepy that head clown thing it was quite strange
            • AnonymousThursday, August 2, 2018 at 4:37 pm
              I love these superstitious articles.
              • your nanMonday, July 23, 2018 at 4:55 pm
                this is kinda scary bc we were on camp that day and heaps of people were like having drama
                • CAseFriday, July 20, 2018 at 11:54 am
                  I like reading these articles😃
                  • CAseFriday, July 20, 2018 at 11:51 am
                    Aswome sauce
                    • spykitten
                      spykittenFriday, July 20, 2018 at 10:56 am
                      I really like this article!😀

                      Recent Comments

                      Alien Outbuster wrote:

                      One word... WOW!
                      Usain Bolt, Fastest Human On Ear...

                      Inserts name I wrote:

                      That was amazing, i can't believ...
                      How Online Gaming Platform Roblo...

                      Shadow wrote:

                      That is luxury
                      Eco-Friendly Airlander 10 Will S...

                      Our Apps and Plugins

                      Awards

                      ALA