Yet another Friday the 13th has arrived, bringing the usual superstitious chatter along with vows to avoid flying and other fear-inducing activities. Why are we so weird about the 13th?
The answer is unclear but our aversion may have religious origins. Some Christians believe Friday is unlucky because it’s the day Jesus was crucified, and 13 signifies the number of guests at the Last Supper, with the infamous Judas being the 13th person seated at the table. Followers of numerology have long testified to the unsettling power of the numeral.
Whether you think it’s unlucky or not, cross your fingers and check out these 13 fun facts about Friday the 13th and our collective aversion to the number 13.
1. From the cradle to the grave
Celebrities born on Friday the 13th include Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Steve Buscemi, Max Weinberg and Peter Tork. Tupac Shakur died on Friday, September 13, 1996.
Taylor Swift thinks of 13 as her lucky number and has some connections with Friday the 13th: “I was born on the 13th. I turned 13 on Friday the 13th. My first album went gold in 13 weeks. My first #1 song had a 13-second intro,” she told MTV in 2009.
2. Mildly superstitious
Mark Twain was allegedly once invited to be the 13th guest at a dinner party. As the story goes, he went to the dinner despite a superstitious friend’s warning. Twain reportedly said, “It was bad luck. They only had food for 12.”
3. Very superstitious
In his No. 1 hit song “Superstition,” Stevie Wonder sings: “Thirteen-month-old baby, broke the lookin’ glass. Seven years of bad luck, good things in your past. When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer. Superstition ain’t the way.”
4. Frighteningly entertaining
The 13th film in the “Friday the 13th” franchise is being developed by Paramount Pictures, with a 2017 release date. The CW network has a TV series inspired by the movies in the works. A new Friday the 13th video game is being funded via Kickstarter.
5. Heavy, dude
The band Black Sabbath released its debut album on Friday, February 13, 1970.
6. Bad things can happen
The movie “Alive” is based on the true story of a plane crash in South America on Friday, October 13, 1972. Fourteen survivors were found in the mountains more than two months after the plane went down.
7. Even outer space isn’t safe
On Friday the 13th, 2029, a large asteroid will fly close enough to the Earth to be visible without a telescope in Africa, Europe and Asia, according to NASA.
8. No, seriously
Don’t look now but the sky is set to fall on Friday morning. A batch of “space junk” is expected to fall in Sri Lanka, prompting the government to institute a no-fly zone in the potential landing area, according to the CBC.
9. What could go wrong?
The Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel offers special zombie, vampire and “Rocky Horror”-themed ceremonies on Friday the 13th.
10. Hell on wheels
In Ontario, Canada, motorcyclists gather every Friday the 13th for rallies that draw thousands of participants. The tradition dates back to 1981.
11. Spellbound by fear
The word for fear of Friday the 13th is “paraskavedekatriaphobia.” The word for fear of the number 13 is “triskaidekaphobia.” Located near Philadelphia is the Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Center, an organization that hosts parties centered on confronting common phobias like walking under a ladder and opening an umbrella indoors.
12. Tuesday is also terrifying
In some Spanish-speaking countries, Tuesday (Martes) the 13th is considered bad luck. Tuesday is feared because it is the day of the week associated with the Roman god of war, Mars. There is a cautionary saying: “On Tuesdays, don’t get married, don’t take a trip and don’t leave your home.”
13. Throwing caution to the wind
Founded in 1882 by Capt. William Fowler, The Thirteen Club of New York was a group of skeptics who defied superstitions by hosting dinner parties on Friday the 13th. At the first dinner, the 13 members performed such unlucky feats as passing under a ladder. They dined on 13 courses, the first by the light of 13 candles. The devil-may-care group tipped over salt containers on the table but were forbidden from tossing any of the spilled granules over their shoulders. The small club evolved into a national organization that boasted such members Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt, according to the New York Historical Society.