Over the centuries, Friday the 13th has garnered a rather unsavoury reputation. Mired in superstition and fear, this has gradually evolved into an ‘unlucky’ date that many will try to avoid. As any who have thoroughly perused a calendar might know, Friday the 13th occurs in any month that begins with a Sunday. But what led to this problematic perception?
To begin with, the number 13 has been associated with many negative events - from the 13 individuals present at Jesus' last supper to the fact that Hammurabi's Code omitted the 13th law from its list of rules. Houses often avoided the 13th floor, and several famous personalities have been known to make sure that their dinner table never had 13 people. Indeed, fear of the number 13 has an actual term for it: triskaidekaphobia. And more specifically, a fear of Friday the 13th is known as 'paraskevidekatriaphobia'.
Perhaps the first incident pertaining to Friday the 13th comes from the 1100s when King Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar. According to legend, they were imprisoned and many were later executed rather brutally. However, it remains difficult to establish an accurate historical link between the incident and Friday the 13th.
Popular culture and events have both played a role in amplifying the fear around Friday the 13th. From the 'Friday the 13th' horror movie (as well as TV show, novels, video games etc) franchise to Thomas William Lawson's book 'Friday, the Thirteenth' - there has been ample media and literature to fan the fears.
Matters have certainly not been helped by the tendency for disasters to occur on this day. The 1940 German bombing of Buckingham Palace or the Cyclone that killed hundreds of thousands in Bangladesh in the 1970s also took place on this date.
Beyond the obvious however, the abstract fear of Friday the 13th has had some rather tangible repercussions as many remain in a state of panic, refusing to undertake new activities.
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