Today is Friday the 13th, and for many of us, when we hear the term “Friday the 13th” the first thing that pops into the scary part of our noggins might be the American horror film franchise of the same name.
If you’ve seen any of those films then you know they feature that wild-and-crazy, hockey-mask-wearing villain, Jason Vorhees who fictitiously began to stalk the grounds of Camp Crystal Lake in 1980.
But the history and superstition about Friday the 13th being a “bad luck” day - which, by the way, typically shows up at least twice a year - dates back much further.
According to timeanddate.com, some historians think the superstitions surrounding the day rose in the late 19th century when Italian composer, Gioachino Rossini, died on a Friday the 13th. This was the first known mentioning of the date in relation to it delivering bad luck, but there are other possible sources of origin.
Another theory is that the story surrounding the Last Supper and subsequent crucifixion of Jesus is where it all got started. Phillips Stevens, Jr., associate professor of anthropology at the University at Buffalo, says there were 13 people at the table: the 12 Apostles and the 13th person was Jesus.
“The Last Supper was on a Thursday, and the next day was Friday, the day of crucifixion,” he says.
There are even scientific names for Friday the 13th phobia.
In her article for the International Business Times on Jan. 13, 2012, Julia Greenberg delivers a couple of those tongue-twisting scientific names for fear of Friday the 13th: “The phobia, known as friggatriskaidekaphobia, is not uncommon.
“The word comes from Frigga, the name of the Norse goddess for whom Friday is named,” Greenberg says, “and triskaidekaphobia, or fear of the number 13. It is also sometimes called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek Paraskevi for Friday, Dekatreis for 13 and phobia for fear.”
In fact, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina, it is estimated that 17-21 million people in the United States are affected by the fear of Friday the 13th.
Wow. Think about that! The populations of Florida or New York are in the 19-29 million range, so if everyone in either of those states had paraskevidekatriaphobia, you could fit them into that fear of Friday the 13th group.
There are also several superstitions that surround stuff that happens that day, including misfortune when starting a trip on a Friday the 13th, seven years of bad luck when breaking a mirror, the passing of a family member when cutting your hair, bad luck when walking under a ladder, or having a black cat cross your path.
But as far as statistics go, there’s little evidence that shows Friday the 13th delivers more accidents, natural disasters or hospital visits, and in some countries statistics have shown there to be less incidents because more people tend to become overcautious “fraidy cats” on Friday the 13th and pay more attention to what they’re doing that day.