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 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.

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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


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

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

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  • Bob the guyThursday, May 24, 2018 at 7:00 am
    I got to admit, Friday the 13th is a bit creepy to think about, but it's nothing. It's like saying ''I LOVE FRIDAYS!'' But you don't love Friday the 13th? I love black cats, they're very interesting and mysterious with their black coats! (Also I just wanted to point out there's a lot more black cats on Halloween than Friday the 13th..) Well yes, there's a lot of things that seem to add up to this certain date, but why be horrified of the number 13? Just because it comes right after 12 doesn't really mean it's 'bad'. Friday the 13th is like any other day, except it is largely misunderstood! If you 'fail' a math test on Friday the 13th, just to let you know, you made that mistake! Supermarkets, clothing stores, and many other shops have to suffer because of this 'uncanny' holiday! May I just say that this 'holiday' is not a holiday but instead a regular and normal day that we people think is 'evil.' If bad luck DOES happen to you, just remember.. it could've happened on any other day!
    • cocolightbulb
      cocolightbulbTuesday, June 12, 2018 at 7:17 am
      I agree with you Bob the guy and that bad luck doesn't have to happen on friday the 13th because bad luck happened to me and it wasn't friday the 13th so that just proves that this stuff is not real it is fake and people just want to believe that kind of stuff because they probably are really easy to trick people.
      • greenbunnies
        greenbunniesSaturday, June 9, 2018 at 3:52 pm
        I totally agree with you.Some things just happen.
      • Andino Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 7:04 pm
        Freaky Friday
        • Ash KetchumTuesday, May 22, 2018 at 11:37 am
          I will come for you!!!!
          • Jason VoorheesFriday, May 18, 2018 at 6:36 am
            I will come for you!!!!
            • coolkid31
              coolkid31Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 12:02 pm
              i don't like saying friday the 13's
              • coolThursday, May 17, 2018 at 11:26 am
                • Natasha Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at 1:36 pm
                  It no true if you believe in god.
                  • soccercandy102
                    soccercandy102Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 12:32 pm
                    Friday the 13th is cursed
                    • lololololololTuesday, May 15, 2018 at 10:40 am
                      This day always creeps me out
                      • coolgoneMonday, May 14, 2018 at 11:42 am
                        On friday the 13th i broke my leg on my BMX bike and i was in the hospital then the lights went out then i screamed.

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