13 Fascinating Facts About Friday The 13th

17th January 2017

This year we have already had one Friday the 13th in the first 2 weeks of the year, and this got us thinking about the superstition. Nicknamed ‘the most popular superstition in the Western world’, the fear of Friday the 13th is mysterious, irrational and utterly fascinating. So here's 13 facts you didn't know about everyone's favourite day. 

1. Nearly 20 million people are thought to be afflicted by friggatriskaidekaphobia (Norse Goddess: Frigg/Friday + tris/three + kai/and + deka/ten + phobos/fear) the phobia of Friday the 13th.

In a 2013 poll 34% of the 72% of U.K. participants polled who suffer from this seemingly irrational fear admit to wanting to “hide under their duvet” every Friday the 13th.

Most will just be a little more careful than usual but for some it is a real problem. They will even avoid important tasks like going to the doctor’s or to work. They display signs of extreme anxiety as the date approaches and often believe that something terrible is going to happen. It is estimated that millions are lost every day around the world due to people’s fear to behave normally!

2. Friday the 13th Can Come in Threes

For all those who dread Friday the 13th - sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it is not possible to have a year without one incidence of the dreaded date. However, it is also impossible for a year to have more than three of them and it is possible to go up to 14 months without experiencing a Friday the 13th.

Of course, if you stay in bed and manage to sleep all day you might not notice it, but New York man Daz Baxter found that may be just as hazardous. Having elected to stay in bed to ward off bad luck on the fateful day, his apartment block collapsed and he fell six storeys to his death.

3. Friday the 13th Patterns Repeat in the Calendar

There is a numerical method to the madness of Friday the 13th. If a non-leap year starts on a Thursday, then February, March, and November will all have a Friday the 13th. This is due to happen 11 times in the 21st century.

It has been noted that the February-March-November pattern repeats in a 28-year cycle. The latest cycle began in 2009 as Friday the 13th occurred in February, March, and November.

In 2015, 6 years later it happened again but it will not happen for 11 more years until 2026 and then we'll have to wait again for 11 years until 2037 to see the trilogy. The pattern will start all over again in 2043, 6 years after 2037. 

It is possible to experience three Friday the 13ths in a leap year as well – If New Year’s day is on a Sunday then the date will fall in January, April and July. In the 20th century, this happened in 1928, 1956, and 1984. And in the 21st century this will happen four times in 2012, 2040, 2068, and 2096. The 28-year cycle again!

4. In a reversal of its usual reputation, in mathematics, the number 13 is considered a “happy number.”

Happy numbers are defined by a process of replacing a positive integer with the sum of the squares of its digits, repeating the process until the number equals one. Unhappy or sad numbers are any positive integer that cannot be reduced to one by this process and go on forever.

5. Everyone’s favourite goat harmonising singer/songwriter also bucks the trend - Taylor Swift.

She has 13 as her lucky number and apparently she draws the number on her hand with eyeliner before going onstage. She turned 13 on Friday the 13th December 2002 and says everything good in her life has been associated with the number – “My first album went gold in 13 weeks. My first #1 song had a 13-second intro, and every time I've won an award I've been seated in either the 13th seat, the 13th row, the 13th section or row M, which is the 13th letter."

6. Thirteen is part of the Fibonacci sequence, which is a series of numbers where a number is found by adding up the two before it.

The profoundly important sequence can be found all throughout Nature and is used to make the Fibonacci Spiral, an approximation of the Golden Ratio.

7. 13 is also the sixth prime number of an infinite list of primes. A prime number is a natural number (whole, non-negative number), greater than one, with no positive divisors other than itself and one. Prime numbers usually fascinate mathematicians but maybe not this one!

8. Part of the reason 13 has such a bad reputation is because it comes directly after 12, which is the number of “completeness” and pops up all over the place in religion, myth and customs.  

For example: 12 Zodiac signs, 12 months in a year, 12 hours in a clock, 12 God of Olympus, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 days of Christmas, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 Apostles of Jesus and 12 eggs in a dozen. 

9. There are also biblical and historical references to 13 being considered unlucky. Judas, the apostle who later betrayed Jesus, was supposedly the 13th guest to sit down at the last supper and Christ was also crucified on a Friday.

In numerology 13 is seen as an irregular number and it is also the number of witches you need to form a coven.

Others believe the aversion to be rooted in Norse mythology, which tells how Loki, the demigod of mischief turned up uninvited to a feast, joining 12 others and taking their number to 13, casuing the death of the good God Balder. 

Friday and 13 were also traditionally associated with capital punishment. Friday was “the day of the hangman” as many public hangings took place on this day and there were exactly 13 steps to the gallows

On Friday October 13th 1307 Philip IV of France apparently arrested and tortured hundreds of the Knights Templar who then cursed all of France. 

10. Many hospitals don’t have a room number 13 or a 13th floor. This also goes for tall buildings, especially hotels. This is particularly prevalent in the USA. Normally the 13th floor is skipped or designated in the lift as 12A or M.

Some airlines also omit Gate 13. 

Ironically, according to a 2007 USA Today article, 13% of hotel guests would be upset if they were given a room on the 13th floor.

11. Friday the 13th is not universally seen as a day of doom. The number 13 is considered lucky by Italians and instead it is Friday the 17th which is seen as the day that brings bad luck. When written in Roman Numerals, XVII, seventeen can be rearranged to mean VIXI "I have lived" which also means “I am dead” and was often written on gravestones.

In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th  is considered bad luck. 

12a. One silver lining if you have no superstition is that because of its reputation, properties, events and services can be much cheaper on Friday the 13th. A particular bargain opportunity to be had is when paying for air travel – so many people are afraid to fly on the notorious day that flights are indeed cheaper.

Houses or flats numbered 13 are also likely to be cheaper overall as people tend to shy away from purchasing a property which may be unlucky, although there are apparently not many opportunities for a bargain as Zoopla found only 28% of streets include a house 13.

Finally, as you can imagine it’s also a very cheap date to get married on!

After much consideration of the facts, we’re sure it’s all just superstition but we would recommend slight caution on the day… just to be on the safe side you understand.