13 spooky superstitions for friday the 13th
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Freaky Friday1 of 14
It's that time again, when Friday and 13 align. Find out what makes the occasion so ominous, how it changes people's behavior, and whether the day really is as creepy as superstition would have us believe.
Three's a Charm2 of 14
Luckily, Friday the 13th happens only once in 2014—on June 13th! In 2013, it occurred twice (in September and December), and in 2012 there were actually three Fridays on the 13th of a month, each 13 weeks apart. Now that's spooky!
The Back Story3 of 14
There are different theories on how Friday the 13th came to be, but the prevailing one is linked to The Last Supper. Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th person to arrive at dinner, making 13 an unlucky number on any day of the week. Add to that the fact that Jesus died on a Friday, and Friday the 13th gets its bad rap.
Fear Factor4 of 14
Although people are far less superstitious now than they were in the past, the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina estimates that 17 to 21 million people in the U.S. have a diagnosable phobia of Friday the 13th. The illness is called friggatriskaidekaphobia. (We couldn’t make that up.)
Baker's Dozen?5 of 14
Part of the reason the number 13 is considered so treacherous, is simply because it’s right after 12. Numerologists consider 12 a “complete” number: 12 months complete a year, 12 signs complete the zodiac and 12 inches complete a foot.
In Knots6 of 14
Another ominous use of the number 13? The hangman's noose traditionally contained 13 coils. The condemned also had to walk up 13 steps to the gallows.
Addressing The Issue7 of 14
You may have noticed that most buildings leave out the 13th floor, but did you know that planes often lack a 13th row and some hotels eliminate a Room 13? In Florence, the house between 12 and 14 is actually addressed as 12 and a half.
Risky Business8 of 14
Some estimates suggest that the U.S. economy loses up to $900 million every time there’s a Friday the 13th—many people avoid business deals, or even work altogether, on the allegedly doomed date.
Proceed With Caution9 of 14
Fearing an increase in accidents, many Americans won’t hit the roads on Friday the 13th. While traffic crashes do peak on Fridays—probably due to alcohol intake—there’s no decisive data that Friday the 13th is more dangerous than other Fridays in the year.
Nature's Wrath10 of 14
There’s no proof that natural disasters are more likely to occur on Friday the 13th, but Australia’s biggest wildfire, Florida’s costly Hurricane Charley and Kansas’s “Great Flood of 1951” all occurred on a Friday the 13th.
The Naysayers11 of 14
To prove Friday the 13th superstitions as nonsense, a group of affluent New Yorkers started a “Thirteen Club” in 1881. Thirteen people met every Friday the 13th and dined in Room 13. During the gathering, guests walked under ladders and through piles of spilled salt. Take that, superstitions.
Phobia Cure12 of 14
Folklore may have given us these superstitions, but at least it provides some remedies for overcoming bad luck. One option? Climb to the top of a mountain or skyscraper and burn all the socks you own that have holes in them. Or, stand on your head and eat a piece of beef gristle.
Martes 1313 of 14
In some cases, unlucky days just depend on the language. Tuesday the 13th is unluckier than Friday the 13th in Spanish-speaking countries since "Martes" ("Tuesday" in Spanish) is derived from the name of the Roman god of war and destruction, Mars. The movie Friday the 13th was even renamed to Martes 13 in some parts of the world.
The Followers14 of 14
Some of our nation’s most famous 20th-century luminaries feared the day. Henry Ford declined to do any business, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt avoided travel. Rumor has it that FDR refused to roam not only on Friday the 13th, but also on the 13th day of every month.
NEXT ON GLO: The Meaning Behind Common Superstitions