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Why is Friday the 13th Unlucky?

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The phobia of Friday the 13th is known as friggatriskaidekaphobia (try saying that five times fast). The superstition of Friday the 13th being unlucky is a common cultural phenomena. Skyscrapers in New York have no 13th floors, black cats crossing people’s yard on this day have been murdered, and fewer robberies occur on this unlucky date. But where did this superstition come from?

One of the theories of why Friday the 13th is unlucky, dates back to the murder and arrest of the Knights Templar by the King of France on Friday the 13th, 1307. At this time during the middle ages, the Knights Templar were revered and looked up to by the peasants of Europe. Unfortunately, the King of France saw this as a threat and had them arrested and put on trial. Few Templars survived the witch hunt. The theory goes that the peasants then thought Friday the 13th to be an unlucky day, and so it has stayed since.

There are also other theories of why Friday the 13th is considered unlucky. Traditionally, the number twelve was seen as a perfect and whole number. There were twelve gods of Olympus, twelve tribes of Israel, and twelve apostles of Jesus. The number thirteen was an irregular and odd number, and was considered unholy. A superstition dating back to the Last Supper, was that thirteen people sitting at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.

Friday was also a traditionally unlucky day. Traditional beliefs held that Friday was an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and financial woes, and Christian beliefs hold Friday as unlucky because Jesus was crucified on a Friday. The combination of Friday and the number thirteen being unlucky may have led to the widely-held superstition that Friday the 13th is jinxed.

Interestingly enough, in Spanish-speaking countries, Tuesday the 13th is considered an unlucky date. This superstition dates back to the ancient Greeks. The god of war, Ares  was said to have ruled Tuesday, so Tuesday was considered an especially inhospitable day. Tuesday is also the third day of the week, and the Greeks believed that ‘bad luck comes in threes’, so this added to the superstition.

Whether it’s on a Tuesday or a Friday, the number thirteen is considered an ominous number. Theories are abound as to why we consider these star-crossed dates as unfortunate, however, the superstition remains as a piece of quintessential cultural folklore.