Is Friday the 13th really so unlucky?

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, May 11, 2022

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In 2022, May is the only month with a Friday the 13th


Individuals who are superstitious may keep careful eyes on the calendar so they know just when the thirteenth day of the month lands on a Friday. In 2022, May is the only month with a Friday the 13th. There won’t be another Friday the 13th until January 2023.

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Many people consider Friday the 13th a harbinger of bad luck. Few unlucky superstitions are as well-known throughout Western culture as Friday the 13th. In fact, in addition to triskaidekaphobia, which is the fear of the number 13, Friday the 13th has its own phobia terms: paraskavedekatriaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia. But as with other phobias, it’s challenging to figure out exactly what sparked a fear of Friday the 13th. It’s likely a combination of factors. 


The fear may stem from the fact that both Friday and the number 13 have been considered unlucky in certain cultures throughout history. Put them both together and it’s the perfect storm. 

One theory involves Norse mythology’s favorite mischief-maker. Loki reportedly crashed a banquet in Valhalla, bringing the number of gods in attendance to 13. According to author Charles Panati, who wrote “Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things,” after being deceived by Loki, the blind god Hodr mistakenly shot his brother Balder, the god of light, goodness, and joy. This contributed to number 13 having negative connotations in Scandinavia. 


Strong numeric symbols centered around 13 are cemented in religious history as well. The Last Supper was attended by Jesus in addition to his 12 disciples. The thirteenth to arrive, Judas Iscariot, would go on to betray Christ. Accordingly, reports that the seating arrangement at the Last Supper is believed to have created the Christian superstition that having 13 guests at a table was a bad omen, specifically related to courting death. Friday also is said to be the day Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, the day Cain murdered Abel, and the day that Jesus was crucified.


The stories around Friday the 13th have evolved through the years. On October 13, 1307, hundreds of Knights Templar, a powerful religious military order, were arrested by the King of France. Many of those arrested were later executed. In 1907, Thomas William Lawson published the novel “Friday, the Thirteenth” that told the story of a New York City stockbroker who plays on superstitions of the date to create Wall Street chaos, helping to solidify opinions about Friday the 13th. Other troubling events that have occurred on Friday the 13th include the German bombing of Buckingham Palace and the murder of rapper Tupac Shakur. 


The number 13 was not considered unlucky by everyone. In fact, in various Pagan cultures, 13 was associated with fertility and fortune. Individuals can make their own assumptions about Friday the 13th and enjoy it this May, which happens to be the only month this year the superstitious will have to contend with this spooky date on the calendar.