Friday The 13th – Why Is It Considered So Unlucky?

Keep away from ladders, don’t break any mirrors and whatever you do, don’t let any black cats cross your path.

It’s Friday the 13th folks – and this year there are three of them [to put that into context, the next year in which there will be three is 2026 – make of that what you will.]

Fear of this date is known as friggatriskaidekaphobia (named after "Frigg", the Norse goddess whom Friday is named after and "triskaidekaphobia" meaning the fear of "13".)

Unlucky for some: Are you suspicious of Friday 13th?

Superstition says it’s the unluckiest day of the year and is generally regarded as an unsuitable day to undertake journeys or begin new projects.

Thomas Fernsler, a professor at the University of Delaware, has studied Friday the 13th extensively and even goes by the moniker 'Professor 13'.

He says one of the most common explanations for the origin of the date being associated with bad luck stems from the Bible.

There were 13 people at the Last Supper — Jesus and his 12 apostles. The Crucifixion took place on a Friday, and the two have been linked ever since. But Fernsler also says Norse mythology asserts that the god Loki went uninvited to a party of 12 other gods and caused the death of the most beloved one, Baldur.

It's in the cards

Friday The 13th - Unlucky For Some?

To this day, parties are wary of having 13 members, he says. In Paris, there are businesses that will rent you a professional 14th dinner guest, called a quatorzieme.

Among the tragedies to befall this day were the bombing of Buckingham Palace on September 13, 1940, as part of Hitler's strategic "Blitz" bombing campaign.

November 13 1970 (also a Friday) saw a massive storm kill around 300,000 people in Bangladesh, with subsequent floods killing as many as a million in the Ganges Delta.

Some people however put absolutely no stock in superstitions about this date.

The Friday 13th crash in 1989

Friday 13th Financial Disasters

Wake Forest University professor Eric Carlson once led a group called the Carolina Skeptics, who would gather every Friday the 13th and encourage people to do "unlucky" things, just to prove that the world wouldn't end as a result.

"We would deliberately challenge superstitions," he said. "At 13:13, I would stand under a ladder. We'd have a fake black cat (I'm allergic to real ones.), and break a mirror and spill salt while standing on a crack. We like to have control in our lives, and it's very discomforting that bad things happen that we can't control, so we try to find ways to control these bad things. Superstition gives us a sense of being in control."

He says nothing bad ever happened to him during or after tempting fate on Friday the 13th.

"I have a good life," he said. "I have a wife and two children, and all of us are healthy."

Besides, he adds, "It's bad luck to be superstitious."