Friday the 13th is a superstition that we take for granted. It is said to be unlucky and many people do not want to go out or undertake anything risky on this day. Known as friggatriskaidekaphobia or paraskevidekatriaphobia, it is a very real fear for some people. But how many of us know the significance of this date? Why should a particular combination of a the day of Friday and the number 13 be anything other than a normal day?
There are many conflicting beliefs as to why this day should be considered 'unlucky'. One such belief stems from Christianity. The number thirteen has long been regarded as unlucky, due to the story of the last supper. Thirteen was the number of people present at the supper; twelve disciples plus Jesus. Judas was the thirteenth member to arrive and it was Judas who betrayed Jesus. It is for this reason that Christians have historically been wary of the number thirteen. In the same way, the day of Friday is considered unlucky due to Jesus having been crucified on a Friday. The combination of these two aspects could be considered a cause of the fear of the date.
Another story claims that the fear of Friday 13th comes from a different historical occurrence. The Knights Templar (also known as the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon) were a Christian military order, and they had become one of the most formidable forces in Europe. Katherine Kurtz, in her book 'Tales of the Knights Templar' claims that it was on Friday 13th October 1307, that "...officers of King Philip IV of France carried out mass arrests in a well-coordinated dawn raid that left several thousand Templars — knights, sergeants, priests, and serving brethren — in chains, charged with heresy, blasphemy, various obscenities, and homosexual practices. None of these charges was ever proven, even in France — and the Order was found innocent elsewhere — but in the seven years following the arrests, hundreds of Templars suffered excruciating tortures intended to force "confessions," and more than a hundred died under torture or were executed by burning at the stake." Many claim that it was this huge historical occurrence that prompted the fear of the day Friday 13th.
There are other suggestions as to where the fear could have come from. The ship HMS Friday was launched on a Friday 13th in the 18th Century. The ship was never heard from again and since then no ships have been launched on Friday the 13th.The number 13 also has a negative significance in Norse mythology. Loki, an evil Norse God, turned up to Valhalla without being invited. He caused the death of Balder, God of light, joy and reconciliation.
Regardless of where the superstition comes from, there has never been any conclusive proof that Friday 13th is to be feared any more than any other day of the year. Some studies have suggested that there are more car crashes and hospital admissions on this day, but no study has ever been wide enough to be considered conclusive proof. It seems unlikely that it could possibly be the case, when in Spain it is Tuesday 13th that is considered unlucky. In Italy it is Friday 17th.
Friday is considered unlucky to a Christian, yet it is the holiest day of the week for a Muslim. In Japan, Friday 13th is considered unlucky, but then so are April 4th, July 7th and August 8th. Can a day be either lucky or unlucky depending on which part of the world you live in? I don't believe so.