Why Is Friday The 13th Unlucky?

by Jessica Learish
This is a close-up of a Bombay mamba black cat shot on macro, the cat is staring at the side, and th...
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There are loads of superstitions swarming around the idea of bad luck — from walking under a ladder to seeing a black cat and breaking a mirror. But, have you ever stopped to wonder why Friday the 13th is considered to be unlucky? Even the United States economy shudders at the thought of Friday the 13th. Experts report that the U.S. economy sees an $800 to $900 million drop in output every time the 13th of the month lands on a Friday, and I don't think it's because corporations and traders are staying home to watch Jason Voorhees from under a blanket.

Maybe it's all a big coincidence, or maybe the longevity of this superstition has something to do with confirmation bias, the psychological tendency for people to interpret information in a way that confirms their already held beliefs. But, there have been loads of strange and tragic events that have fallen on Friday the 13th.

The first documented episode of Friday the 13th misfortune, which is thought to be the basis of the modern superstition, took place on Friday Oct. 13, 1307 when the Pope ordered the Knights Templar to be put to death and their leader crucified. The Aztec civilization also met its end on Friday the 13th (August 1521) when Spanish conquistadors overthrew Aztec leadership and colonized the region. Even last November's horrifying terrorist attacks in Paris fell on Friday the 13th. The day is definitely not without tragedy.

Friday and the number 13 have also been considered independently unlucky throughout history. Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and in medieval times, Friday was "hangman's day," when executioners would execute criminals like clockwork, which is, no doubt about it, pretty unlucky. I'm willing to buy that a weekly round of gruesome executions for crimes like peaceful protest, stealing apples, or the ever popular "witchcraft" would be traumatizing enough to make a person dread Fridays for a long time, weekend or no weekend.

Christianity has been harsh on the number 13 since its inception with references to widespread rebellion in the 13th year in Genesis, and the slaughter of Jews on the 13th day of January in Esther. Then, there's the well-known Last Supper story, in which 13 people were seated at the table when Jesus announced he had been betrayed.

There may be a pretty straightforward explanation of this distaste for 13 though, as history suggests that early Christian missionaries may have vilified the number since it represented the sacred feminine to Pagan tribes that worshipped goddesses. So, instead of hiding from bad luck this Friday, maybe we should get in touch with our inner goddesses, perhaps over a Cosmo. This Friday is also World Cocktail Day, after all.

Images: ©fitopardo/Moment/Getty Images; Giphy