Spooky or not?


The master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Tomorrow, as you must already have noticed, is what many consider to be the unluckiest day of the year: Friday the 13th!

There are endless stories of tragedies and bad things happening on this particular date and people around the world are afraid that something terrible might happen to them. This fear is so common that psychologists have even a name for it: paraskavedekatriaphobia! But why is that? How did this superstition originate? Is this date really unlucky? 

The origin

Most people don’t even know why they’re afraid of Friday 13th. Some think the jinx might have originated because of the horror movie series “Friday 13th”, where a serial killer wearing a hockey mask massacres dozens of kids in scenes dripping blood. But in reality, this superstition dates back to Jesus’ last supper before being killed. This supper happened on a Friday, and they were 13 at the table; Jesus and his 12 apostles, including the one who betrayed him, hence Friday the 13th symbolises treason and suffering.

How did the superstition spread?

On Friday 13th October 1307, 54 Knights Templar were tortured and burned alive in France, in a horrific scene just outside Paris that has later sparkled all kinds of conspiracy theories, including Dan Brown’s book.

Also, in 1907 an eccentric stockbroker wrote a book called “Friday the Thirteen” which was a huge success, becoming a film in 1916. The book told the attempts of an evil broker to crash the stock market on that unlucky date.

Spooky Friday 13th

There is an endless list of uncanny coincidences that superstitious people say, reinforce the belief that this date should be feared: cyclone in India, plane crashes, bushfires, death by lightning and so on. Here are some examples:

1 - William Peter Blatty, the author of the horror story “The Exorcist”, died on a Friday 13th.

2 - The actor who played Damien in another horror movie, “The Omen”, was sentenced last year, on Friday 13th, because of a road-rage attack on two cyclists.

3 - A shotgun killed the rapper, Tupac Shakur, in Las Vegas on Friday 13th, 1996.

4 - An aeroplane crashed on 13 October 1972 with an entire rugby team into the Andes. The horrible story of the survivors turned into a bestseller and a movie.

5 - Another flight, going from Paris to Moscow, crashed on that same day. All 174 people that were on the plane died.

6 - The cruise ship Costa Concordia sank after hitting a rock on Friday 13th, near Giglio Island in Italy. You probably remember the coastguard ordering the captain of the boat, A.K.A. “Captain Coward” because of abandoning the ship and its passengers, to “get back on board, for fuck’s sake”! By the way, the captain was sentenced to 16 years in prison because of his role in this tragedy.

Fun and not-so-fun facts

1 - Because of the fear so many people have of the number 13, it’s not uncommon for buildings and hotels such as the Carlton in London, to skip having a 13th floor, going from the 12th directly to the 14th floor. Otis Elevator says that 85% of the lifts they produce don’t have a 13th-floor button on the panels.

2 - As so many people are afraid of dying in a plane crash on Friday 13th, you can find great bargains; many airline companies have specially reduced prices on that day.

3 - The same happens with weddings venues; nobody wants to get married on Friday 13th!

4 - And because so many people choose not to go to work and stay at home on this day to avoid disasters, Fridays 13th cause an estimated $900 million loss every year!

If you start looking for tragedies and disasters that have happened around the world over the years, of course, you will see that they can, and do, happen on any date, so you don’t need to wait for Friday 13th to be careful while crossing the street or jumping off a cliff!

How about you, do you believe in this superstition or do you agree that it's just a day like any other? Actually, not a day like any other, it’s Friday; time to get ready for the weekend!!!