Happy Friday the 13! Today marks the first of two Friday the 13th's that we will be celebrating in 2017 - the second being in October, which is fitting since I've always considered it the baby brother of my personal favorite, Halloween! We all know it's a day filled with horror movies, trouble making, and thirteen dollar tattoos - but where exactly did the concept of Friday the 13th come from, anyway?! (Un)luckily for you - we did some research to find out!
Believe it or not, the fear of the number 13 actually has a name - triskaidekaphobia! It seems as though there has always been a superstition of the number 13, as well as Fridays, but before the 19th century, there was no record of a fear of the two together. Many believe that Friday the 13th came to be from the story of Jesus' last supper. According to the Christian story, there were 13 people in the Upper Room (the location in Jerusalem where the Last Supper was held) the day before Good Friday, that being the day of Jesus' death. It is there that we see a correlation between Friday and the number 13.
There is also a theory that the novel "Friday, the Thirteenth," written by Thomas W. Lawson helped contribute to the widespread panic of the "holiday." In the novel, a broker uses the superstition to help cause a panic on Friday the 13th. There is even another theory - in October of 1307, Phillip IV of France had hundreds of the Knights Templar (the Catholic military order closely tied to the Crusades) arrested - and it fell on Friday the 13th (on a side note, it was actually pretty insane, there were claims that during Templar admissions ceremonies, the new recruits were forced to deny Christ and spit on the cross, it sounds like it got pretty crazy).
What some may find interesting is that there are actually two countries who observe the fear of Friday the 13th - just not on Friday the 13th! Tuesday the 13th is a superstitious day in many Spanish speaking countries, as well as the Greeks. Tuesday is the day that is influenced by the God of War Ares. Another interesting little side note is that Tuesday is called "Triti" in Greek, which translates to the "third" (day of the week), which goes along with the saying that "bad luck comes in threes!" In Italy, Friday the 17th is their day of havoc. The reasoning may seem like a bit of a stretch, but when writing the number 17 in Roman numerals, you get XVII. Some argue that you can rearrange the letters to get VIXI which translates to "I have lived," implying death in the present (which sounds pretty badass, to be honest). That is what associates the day to bad luck. In fact, in Italy, 13 is considered a lucky number! So Italy kinda went the other way with that one!
I also always find it funny how many grown adults never realize the impact that the number 13 has in our society as well! There are many, many cases of building elevators that do not include a 13th floor (the buttons literally say 11, 12, 14, 15), as well as many residential blocks do not have a house number 13. Pretty interesting to see such a small detail become such an impact on how we do construction!
Also worth noting on such a feared day is the Thirteen Club. For those unaware, the Thirteen Club was a club created in the 1880s to crush the superstition of "13 at a table" being unlucky. The myth behind this is that if you have 13 people seated a table, one of the people will die within a year from that date. So this group of 19th century badasses would meet for dinner on the 13th of the month, with 13 people present. By 1887, there were over 400 people participating in the Thirteen Club, and they even acquired 5 honorary Presidential members, including Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Again, the "13 at a table" superstition is believed to have arisen from the Last Supper, when Jesus had 13 people at the dinner table.
Now here's the fun part of the Friday the 13th hysteria: The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute claims that an estimated 17 to 21 million people are affected by a fear of the day. It is literally the most feared day of the entire year, beating out Halloween! It is estimated that there is an $800-900 million loss in business on Friday the 13th, which is attributed to the fact that many people allow the day to affect their normal routines. Many people will stay home and off the roads and even avoid flying that day.
So while many people fear the day (or days, some years have three Friday the 13th's), avoid traveling, and while the business world may see a loss - at least we got some pretty awesome movies out of it - just make sure you don't go swimming! But however you decide to spend your Friday the 13th this 2017, be safe, be spooky, and be inspired by death.