13 Things You Didn’t Know About Friday the 13th
Aside from Halloween itself, Friday the 13th is the spookiest day of the year – there’s usually more than one per year, too (source: last month).
We’re usually not the superstitious types, so we decided to compile a few facts and pieces of trivia about the day. Any number of items other than 13 for this list would basically be heresy, so here are 13 things you probably didn’t know about Friday the 13th. That’s the day, not the movie. Click here to check out our infographic about the movies, though.
There is historical evidence dating back to the Middle Ages of both the number 13 and Friday being considered unlucky, but most reports of Friday the 13th itself being unlucky are from the 19th and early 20th Centuries at the earliest.
The day Friday the 13th also used to be known as Black Friday, before Black Friday became associated with mobs of people swarming through stores at two in the morning (when they should really just be shopping online instead).
Many people are familiar with the word “triskaidekaphobia,” which is the fear of Triscuits describes the fear of the number thirteen, but the fear of Friday the 13th has a name too: “paraskevidekatriaphobia.” It’s derived from the Greek word for “Friday,” Paraskevi. If you’re having trouble pronouncing it, so are we.
In the novel Friday, the Thirteenth by Thomas Lawson, a broker manipulates investors into a creating a stock panic from which he can profit on the titular date. The popularity of the story likely helped to spread the superstition in the early 1900s.
In Italy, it’s not Friday the 13th that’s seen as the most unlucky day, but Friday the 17th. The number 17 is written “XVII” in Roman numerals, which can be rearranged to spell “VIXI,” which is Latin for “I lived,” which can also mean “I am dead.” That seems like an awfully long, roundabout way to become superstitious about something, but we’re not here to judge.
In most Spanish-speaking countries, Tuesday the 13th is the unluckiest date.
Tuesday the 13th is also unlucky in Greek culture, since Tuesday is the day of Ares, the god of war, and because it’s the third day of the week (and bad news comes in threes).
Approximately 20 million people in the United States alone express enough fear for Friday the 13th to alter their daily behavior. In aggregate, people staying in on Friday the 13th, or putting off travel plans, or not making purchases they might otherwise make, accounts for nearly a billion dollars in lost business.
It’s impossible for a year to not have at least one month with a Friday the 13th. The average time between Fridays the 13th is about 212 days.
It is possible, though, to have a twelve-month period with no Fridays the 13th. The longest possible such period is actually 14 months, which last occurred from July 13, 2012 to September 13, 2013.
The 13th of any given month is statistically more likely to fall on a Friday than any other day of the week. Gee, way to be a real jerk, Gregory XIII.
In Finland, National Accident Day, a day created to raise awareness for accidents and promote road safety, is always observed on a Friday the 13th.
Taylor Swift’s 13th birthday was on a Friday the 13th. The supernatural demon magic bestowed upon her from this event has allowed her to become one of the greatest pop artists of our time. Well, maybe not. But the thing about her birthday really is true. And “Shake it Off” is so catchy that it can’t possibly be a coincidence. There was definitely some divine intervention there.