Ask anyone why they think Friday the 13th is unlucky and chances are they won’t be able to give you chapter and verse. Why? Well, because there isn’t any. Oh, there’s the stuff about Friday being a bad day to the early Catholic Church or Judas being the 13th person at the Last Supper. And we all know what came after that little get together. And it is true that bad stuff has happened on that Black Letter day in the past. But then bad stuff happens most days. No, we believe Friday the 13th is unlucky because that’s what our parents or a school yard friend or a mean older brother or sister told us. And those jovial people on the local TV news find bad stuff to report on that day and tell you to beware of Friday the 13th.
It’s bad luck. But is there anything in it? We are going to look at the myths, the movies and the bad stuff that has happened and leave you to decide for yourself. By the way, Friday the 13th of January, 2017, will be the first Friday the 13th in almost a year. And the next one? A couple of weeks before Halloween 2017. Maybe you should just write the whole back end of October off and stay in. Here are 13 unlucky and/or scary, or just plain interesting things you should know about Friday the 13th. So, grab your lucky rabbit’s foot or that lucky horseshoe and let’s get going.
15. The Frigga Thing Part I – The Church Vs. The Pagans
Back when the Roman Empire was in charge of the world, what we now think of Europe was a series of pagan states with a galaxy of gods – good, bad and ugly. The Greeks and the Romans did paganism well, with Zeus and Venus and the like. And close to the top of the heap pagan-wise were the Norse gods and goddesses. As in rampaging Vikings and Scandinavia. Gradually, Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church became the dominant religion. But there were problems, big problems. If you had asked any early Pope worth his orb what he hated the most, the answer you would get is paganism.
14. The Frigga Thing Part II- Why The Church Hated Friday
And let’s get to the point and cut to Friday. Frigg (or Frigga) was the wife of head guy Norse god Odin. It’s where we get “Fri-day” from. And this was not lost on the Church. So, some say Frigga’s Day was frowned up by Christian big wigs. A pagan goddess was glorified, making Friday a bad thing. Unless, of course, you were a pagan. But the Church and their new buddies the Romans sent most of those guys off to commune with the gods. If you know what we mean. And Frigga was largely forgotten until Thor and Rene Russo brought her to cinematic life. This is for free: Odin (Wodin) figures in “Wednesday” and good old Viking god Thor? Thursday, of course. Or HemsDay to movie fans. No prizes for spotting the connection between Saturn and Saturday.
13. The Number 13 Gets A Bad Rep – Part I, The Old Days
Once you decide a number is unlucky, then you can spot bad things that happened on that date. It’s just that there has been some kind of conspiracy, mostly in the States, to diss the number 13. Hey, to the Italians 17 is the new 13. And for the Japanese? It’s 4. Okay, we’ll admit the pagans had 13 months. And, yes, there were 13 at the Last Supper, with the traitor Judas being number 1-3. And there is that Norse gods’ banquet with 12 in attendance until Loki (any votes for Lokiday?) shows up as the 13th guest and murders another god. And to add insult to injury, some Christians believe that the Garden of Eden’s Cain killed Abel on Friday the 13th. Now that last one is stretching it a bit.
12. The Number 13 Gets A Bad Rep – Part II, A Modern View
It’s a fact: According to Sponge Bob, there are 13 dirty words. Sorry. We digress. Let’s get serious. It has been said that in England Friday was the day for public executions and there were 13 steps up to the gallows. And if you have 13 letters in your name (say like Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer or Jack the Ripper or Theodore Bundy), you are said to be of the devil. And in numerology, 12 is said to be the “perfect” number. So, 13 has to be a bad thing. Is there anything good to be said for the number 13? Hey, with a “baker’s dozen” (13) you get an extra doughnut. That’ll make you fat. Let’s go global: The Japanese hate the number 4 because it sounds like the Japanese word for death. We couldn’t make that stuff up. And the Italians also connect the number 17 to death. And (this is for free), Tuesday the 13th is unlucky in some Spanish speaking countries.
11. Beware Of Months Beginning On A Sunday
OK. We’ve covered why Friday and the number 13 might be considered “bad”. It’s all about pagans versus the Christians, who are intent on obliterating pagans in general and those warrior goddesses in particular. And, as an added bonus we’ve managed to give you pictures of Chris Hemsworth and Hiddleston. But, let’s cover a few (we hope) interesting facts about Friday the 13th. Fact number one: The maximum number of Friday the 13ths that can fall in any year is three. There are two Friday the 13ths in 2017, namely in January and October. Fact number two: A Friday the 13th can only happen in a month that begins on a Sunday. Get a calendar and count. It makes perfect sense. The third? Not everyone has bought into the bad Friday the 13th vibe. President Theodore Roosevelt and others belonged to “The Thirteen Club”. Yep, met on the 13th, had 13 at the table and fined you 13 cents if you were late.
10. Bad Stuff Just Seems To Happen On Friday The 13th – Kitty Genovese
It was Friday the 13th of March, 1964 when New York bar manager Kitty Genovese was murdered on the streets of New York City. She was stabbed and r*ped by a total stranger over a period of some 30 minutes. The most chilling aspect of the case is that the attack was witnessed by up to 37 or 38 people who saw what was going on and/or heard Genovese’s screams. And not a one of them intervened or even called the police. The case was a sensation, with people all across the country outraged by the conduct of the witnesses. And why didn’t they call the cops or raise the alarm? They all said they didn’t want to get involved and that they assumed somebody else would step in. It’s got a name: “the bystander effect”.
9. It’s So Scary It Became A Movie
Back in 1980 when Friday the 13th came out (yes, on Friday the 13th), the critics hated it. A demonic killer in a hockey mask, they said? Give us a break. Jason Voorhees and that hockey mask have laughed all the way to the bank, pulling in close to 800 million dollars over the years. It’s a perfect idea: Have a bunch of happy teenagers. Cue a Friday the 13th that begins bright and sunny. There are those teenagers swimming in a lake at a summer camp or cavorting between the sheets. Enter the murdering left-to-drown-by-careless-counselors Jason and his murderous mom. They do a nice job of throat slitting and stabbing. In fact, across the already released twelve films, getting onto 200 bloody, slashing murders have appalled and sometimes amused movie fans. Okay, it’s 2017 and we are waiting for the premiere of the 13th film in the Friday the 13th franchise. So, let’s see if you have been paying attention: Guess the date it premieres. Yes, it’s Friday, the 13th of October.
8. Bad Stuff Just Seems To Happen On Friday The 13th – 1972 Plane Crash
It was Friday the 13th of October of 1972, when a Uruguayan rugby team got on board a plane to travel to a game in Chile. They didn’t make it. Instead, the plane got off course, slammed into an Andean mountain and crashed into the snow. 27 of the 45 on the flight survived. But help didn’t come and, in the freezing snow the survivors resorted to extreme measures, including cannibalism of the dead, to survive. A 1974 book titled Alive chronicled the ordeal and was later made into a movie of the same name. At the end of the day, only 16 survived long enough to be rescued (finally) in December after 72 days in the frozen wilderness.
7. It’s An Accident Waiting To Happen
It’s a fact: One in four Americans have admitted that that they are superstitious and nearly 10 percent said they were “wary” of the number 13. And the fear of the number 13 has got a name: Triskaidekaphobia. No, we can’t pronounce it either. But we get the “phobia” at the end. Seems some people avoid going out on Friday the 13th. It’s actually a good day to travel because planes are often not as crowded as usual. But, if people don’t go out, they don’t go to restaurants or buy gas or buy airline tickets. So, the economy takes a hit. So that ‘triska’ thing is already bad news for the bottom line. Plus, there’s more: Sometimes people decide to go out on Friday the 13th, but are jumpy and nervous, literally an accident waiting to happen. One study revealed that car accidents on one Friday the 13th were 52 percent higher than on Friday the 6th.
6. Bad Stuff Just Seems To Happen On Friday The 13th – Paris, 2015
On Friday the 13th of November, 2015, the world was horrified by a series of planned and coordinated terrorist attacks in and around Paris, France. Three suicide bombers struck a football match. That was followed by a number of mass shootings and more suicide bombings at restaurants and cafes in Paris. And there was a mass shooting and hostage taking at the Bataclan Theatre. All in all, some 130 people were killed and over 300 injured. It was the deadliest attack on the French since World War II and became a rallying cry for opponents of terrorist violence.
5. The Day Is Lucky For Some?
Well, there’s Taylor Swift who thinks 13 is her lucky number. Hey, has anybody told her John Mayer was her 13th boyfriend? She might be inclined to change her mind. And the day is magic for Hollywood. Friday the 13th is probably the most popular day, bar none, for releasing horror films. Take any Friday the 13th out there and you can pretty much bet there will be a bumper crop of horror, slashers and ghostly features to tempt even the superstitious out. And for some celebrities, like Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen or horror film actor Christopher Plummer, it’s their birthday and a cause for celebration.
4. Bad Stuff Just Seems To Happen On Friday the 13th – The Knights Templar Bite The Dust
In the Middle Ages, the Knights Templar, those heroes of the Crusades, amassed great power and wealth. And they also managed to p*ss off important people like the Pope and the King of France. Dan Brown famously included a version of their story in the Da Vinci Code. And, of course, when they made the movie we had Tom Hanks solemnly narrating the story, shown in flashback black and white footage, of the arrest and brutal murders of the Knights Templar on Friday, the 13th of October in 1307. In the Dan Brown universe, it’s all tied in to Freemasonry and the quest for the Holy Grail, a take on history many doubt. But since when did movies worry about historical accuracy?
3. A Flight To HEL On Friday The 13th
A few years ago, Finnair Airlines ran a special: You could fly from Copenhagen to Helsinki (HEL) on Flight 666 (Devil Numbers) for a mere $148. The catch? It was on Friday the 13th. So a trip to HEL on that unlucky day. The airline was delighted to report that its Friday the 13th flights were almost full. An amused Guardian reporter quoted a Finnair pilot as saying, “It has been quite a joke among the pilots.” While the whole Friday the 13th fear of flying thing goes back a long way for Americans, northern Europeans only recently (probably under the influence of American movies and TV) have come to view the day as bad news. And while some American airlines don’t have a row 13, Finnair does. So, you could have done the whole trip to HEL on the 13th in row 13. And did we mention the year: 2013?
2. The Jinx Of 13 – Apollo 13
It’s 1970 and NASA is about to launch Apollo 13, its seventh manned mission to the moon. There reportedly had been some joking around about “unlucky 13”, but the guys at NASA believe in science, not superstition. Apollo 13 launched in April and, at first, all seemed well. Then, two days after launch, an explosion on board meant the mission had to be aborted. And the focus shifted to getting the guys back safely. There were some tense moments and the crew was working under horrendous conditions with limited power and no cabin heat. But six days after the launch, they returned to earth, safe and sound and very happy.
1. Back To Where We Started
According to The Guardian, the guy-centered early Church was largely to blame for the whole Friday the 13th bad vibe. Seems 12 is a divine number: “Add one more and it brings in a certain element of chaos.” So, we are back to the Christians versus the pagans, female goddesses and all. Friday is a bad day. 13 is a bad number. And biblical references to 13 at the Last Supper, 12 Apostles and Jesus being crucified on a Friday have only added to the problem. So, come Friday the 13th, will you be locked up safe and sound or out taking in a horror movie? There’s the Bye-Bye Man hitting theaters on Friday, January 13th. And then the reboot of Friday the 13th in October. Whatever you do, take a hint from the movie: Don’t go swimming and keep those lights on at all times. But run like hell if a guy in a hockey mask shows up.