Today is Friday the 13th, and many people will be nervously watching the skies for sudden lightning strikes or falling anvils.

Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition. It occurs when the 13th day of the month in the Gregorian calendar falls on a Friday, which can be the case at least once every year, and up to three times a year. If you are worried about what’s in store this time then you’re not alone. One option is to stay tucked up in bed all day to avoid any potential Friday the 13th bad luck that may come your way or, alternatively, you could ignore the superstitious chatter and embrace it.

 

 

Where does our superstition originate from?

Though folklorists claim there is no written evidence for the superstition before the nineteenth century, the date has long been connected to notorious events in history and religion.

Biblical origins

  • Some historians have claimed it was the day on which Eve bit the apple from the Tree of Knowledge, the great flood began and the builders of the Tower of Babel.
  • According to Catholic belief, one of the most significant events in their religion – the crucifixion of Jesus Christ – took place on a Friday the 13.
  • In the New Testament there were 13 people present for Jesus’s last supper on Maundy Thursday, the day before Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday.

From the Knights Templar to Dan Brown

  • On Friday October 13th 1307 Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar.
  • In his novel Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown cites the 14th century execution of Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay, which took place on Friday the 13th. He cursed the Pope and the King of France, and this spread misfortune down the ages.

Bad things that have happened on Friday 13

  • In 1976, New Yorker Daz Baxter was apparently so afraid of Friday the 13th he decided the safest place to stay was his bed. Mr Baxter was killed when the floor of his apartment block collapsed that day.
  • In 2009, the £13.5 million SAW ride at Thorpe Park had its opening premiere, only to be shut down due to a computer programming fault. Spooky.
  • In 2010, lightning struck a 13-year-old Suffolk boy on Friday 13th at 13:13. Definitely unlucky for him.
  • During the early 1990s retired bus conductor Bob Renphrey also vowed to stay in bed on the superstitious day after some seriously bad luck. The Welshman has crashed fours cars, fallen into a river and been made redundant on previous Friday the 13ths.

The ‘statistics’ of Friday 13th

There have been various studies released over the years that either prove or disprove the Friday 13 myth.

In 1993 a British Medical Journal study claimed there was a “significant” increase in incidences on a Friday the 13, but the author of the study later confessed it was “a bit of fun” as traditional in the Christmas edition.

Meanwhile, Dutch researchers found you were actually less likely to be injured on Friday 13th. The study hypothesised that people were preventively more careful on the day as a result of the superstition.