Friday the 13th

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This article is about the superstition. For other uses, see Friday the 13th (disambiguation).
Friday the 13th in the calendar

Friday the 13th, also known as Black Friday, is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition. It occurs when the 13th day of the month in the Gregorian calendar falls on a Friday. The superstition surrounding this day may have arisen in the Middle Ages, "originating from the story of Jesus' last supper and crucifixion" in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday, the night before His death on Good Friday.[1][2] Other scholars claim that there is no written evidence for a "Friday the 13th" superstition before the 19th century, and the superstition only gained widespread distribution in the 20th century. The fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name: triskadekaphobia; and on analogy to this the fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning "Friday"), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning "thirteen").[3]


The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

While it is sometimes speculated that the superstition "arose in the Middle Ages",[1][2] and there is evidence of both Friday[4] and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century.[5][6][7]

An early documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards' 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th:

He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday 13th of November he passed away.[8]

Rossini by Henri Grevedon

It is possible that the publication in 1907 of Thomas W. Lawson's popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth,[9] contributed to disseminating the superstition. In the novel, an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th.[5]

The urban legend connecting the superstition with the date of Friday, 13 October 1307, when hundreds of the Knights Templar were arrested by King Philip IV, presumably dates to the later 20th century. It was popularized in Dan Brown's 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code and in John J. Robinson's 1989 work Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry, and also in the Maurice Druon historical novel series: "The Accursed Kings" (Les Rois Maudits).[year needed][page needed][3][10][11]

Tuesday the 13th in Hispanic and Greek culture[edit]

In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th (martes trece) is considered a day of bad luck.[12] The Greeks also consider Tuesday (and especially the 13th) an unlucky day[citation needed]. Tuesday is considered dominated by the influence of Ares, the god of war. A connection can be seen in the etymology of the name in some European languages (Mardi in French or martes in Spanish). The fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade occurred on Tuesday, April 13, 1204, and the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans happened on Tuesday, 29 May 1453, events that strengthen the superstition about Tuesday. In addition, in Greek the name of the day is Triti (Τρίτη) meaning literally the third (day of the week), adding weight to the superstition, since bad luck is said to "come in threes".[dubious ]

Friday the 17th in Italy[edit]

In Italian popular culture, Friday the 17th (and not the 13th) is considered a day of bad luck.[13] The origin of this belief could be traced in the writing of number 17, in ancient Latin: XVII. By shuffling the digits of the number one can easily get the word VIXI ("I have lived", implying death in the present), an omen of bad luck.[14] In fact, in Italy, 13 is generally considered a lucky number.[15] However, due to Americanization, young people consider Friday the 13th unlucky as well.[16]

The 2000 parody film Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth was released in Italy with the title Shriek – Hai impegni per venerdì 17? ("Shriek – Do You Have Something to Do on Friday the 17th?").

Social impact[edit]

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day, making it the most feared day and date in history. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. "It's been estimated that [US]$800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day".[6] Despite this, representatives for both Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines have stated that their airlines do not suffer from any noticeable drop in travel on those Fridays.[17]

In Finland, a consortium of governmental and nongovernmental organizations led by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health promotes the National Accident Day, which always falls on a Friday 13th.[18]

Rate of accidents[edit]

A study in the British Medical Journal, published in 1993, concluded that there "is a significant level of traffic-related incidences on Friday the 13th as opposed to a random day, such as Friday the 6th, in the UK."[19] However, the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics (CVS) on 12 June 2008 stated that "fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays, because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home. Statistically speaking, driving is slightly safer on Friday the 13th, at least in the Netherlands; in the last two years, Dutch insurers received reports of an average 7,800 traffic accidents each Friday; but the average figure when the 13th fell on a Friday was just 7,500."[20][21]

On Friday 13 October 1972 a plane carrying 45 Uruguayan passengers and crew including members of the Old Christian rugby team and their family members and associates crashed in the Andes mountains after veering off route to Santiago, Chile. 16 of the 45 on board ultimately survived after spending 72 days in unimaginable conditions. It is heralded as one of the greatest human survival stories of all time.[22]


The following months have a Friday the 13th:

Month Years Dominical
January 1978, 1984, 1989, 1995, 2006, 2012, 2017, 2023, 2034 A, AG
February 1976, 1981, 1987, 1998, 2004, 2009, 2015, 2026, 2032, 2037 D, DC
March 1981, 1987, 1992, 1998, 2009, 2015, 2020, 2026, 2037 D, ED
April 1973, 1979, 1984, 1990, 2001, 2007, 2012, 2018, 2029, 2035 G, AG
May 1977, 1983, 1988, 1994, 2005, 2011, 2016, 2022, 2033 B, CB
June 1975, 1980, 1986, 1997, 2003, 2008, 2014, 2025, 2031, 2036 E, FE
July 1973, 1979, 1984, 1990, 2001, 2007, 2012, 2018, 2029, 2035 G, AG
August 1976, 1982, 1993, 1999, 2004, 2010, 2021, 2027, 2032 C, DC
September 1974, 1985, 1991, 1996, 2002, 2013, 2019, 2024, 2030 F, GF
October 1972, 1978, 1989, 1995, 2000, 2006, 2017, 2023, 2028, 2034 A, BA
November 1981, 1987, 1992, 1998, 2009, 2015, 2020, 2026, 2037 D, ED
December 1974, 1985, 1991, 1996, 2002, 2013, 2019, 2024, 2030 F, GF

This sequence given here for 1972–2037, follows a 28-year cycle from 1 March 1900 to 28 February 2100. The months with a Friday the 13th are determined by the Dominical letter (G, F, GF, etc.) of the year. Any month that starts on a Sunday contains a Friday the 13th, and there is at least one Friday the 13th in every calendar year. There can be as many as three Friday the 13ths in a single calendar year; either in February, March and November in a common year starting on Thursday (such as 2009 or 2015) (D), or January, April and July in a leap year starting on Sunday (such as 2012) (AG).

The longest period that can occur without a Friday the 13th is fourteen months, either from July to September the following year being a common year starting on Tuesday (e.g., between 2001–02, 2012–13, and 2018–19), or from August to October the following year being a leap year starting on Saturday (e.g., between 1999–2000 or 2027–28).

Patterns for common years:

Each Gregorian 400-year cycle contains 146,097 days (365 × 400 = 146,000 normal days, plus 97 leap days). 146,097 days ÷ 7 days per week = 20,871 weeks. Thus, each cycle contains the same pattern of days of the week (and thus the same pattern of Fridays that are on the 13th). The 13th day of the month is slightly more likely to be a Friday than any other day of the week.[23][24] On average, there is a Friday the 13th once every 212.35 days (compared to Thursday the 13th, which occurs only once every 213.59 days).

The distribution of the 13th day over the 4,800 months is as follows:

Day of the week Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Number of occurrences 687 685 685 687 684 688 684


  1. ^ a b DellaContrada, John (9 February 2004). "Fear of "Friday the 13th" Most Likely Originated from Jesus' Last Supper and Crucifixion, Says UB Anthropologist". University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Retrieved 13 July 2014.  "There were 13 people at the table (at the Last Supper) and the 13th was Jesus. The Last Supper was on a Thursday, and the next day was Friday, the day of crucifixion. When '13' and Friday come together, it is a double whammy"
  2. ^ a b Hartston, Willam (1 June 2007). Encyclopedia of Useless Information. Sourcebooks, Incorporated. p. 365. ISBN 9781402248382. In Christian tradition, fear of Friday the 13th stems from the day of the Crucifixion (Friday) and the number at the Last Supper (13). Despite these origins, the Friday the 13th superstition dates back only to the Middle Ages. 
  3. ^ a b Weisstein, Eric W. "Triskaidekaphobia on MathWorld". MathWorld. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  4. ^ Friday has been considered an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects at least since the 14th century, as witnessed by Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
  5. ^ a b Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, 13: The Story of the World's Most Popular Superstition ch. 5 (2004).
  6. ^ a b Roach, John (12 August 2004). "Friday the 13th Phobia Rooted in Ancient History". National Geographic News. Retrieved 29 October 2008. 
  7. ^ Clar, Mimi (1957). "Friday the 13th". Western Folklore: 62–63. 
  8. ^ Henry Sutherland Edwards, The Life of Rossini, Blackett, 1869, p.340.
  9. ^ Thomas W. Lawson. "Thomas W. Lawson, ''Friday, the Thirteenth'' (1907)". Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  10. ^ "Friday the 13th". Retrieved 26 March 2007. 
  11. ^ "Why Friday the 13th Is Unlucky". Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  12. ^ Rafael Falcón, Christine Yoder Falcón Salsa: a taste of Hispanic culture, p. 64, Praeger (1998), ISBN 0-275-96121-4
  13. ^ Carlo Grande (17 February 2012). "Venerdì 17 porta davvero sfortuna?" (in Italian). La Stampa. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  14. ^ Nick Harris (15 November 2007). "Bad omen for Italy as their unlucky number comes up". The Independent. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  15. ^ "Venerdì 13 porta (s)fortuna? Non in Italia" (in Italian). Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  16. ^ "Venerdì 13 è un giorno che porta sfortuna – Mara rimanda le nozze con Mezzaroma" (in Italian). Corriere del Mezzogiorno. 1 February 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  17. ^ Josh Sens, "Some Don't Count on lucky", Via Magazine, January 2004.
  18. ^ http://www.tapaturmapäivä.fi/fi/
  19. ^ Roach, John. "Friday the 13th Phobia Rooted in Ancient History". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 15 June 2014. According to a 1993 study in the British Medical Journal, however, there is a significant level of traffic-related incidences on Friday the 13th as opposed to a random day, such as Friday the 6th, in the UK. 
  20. ^, "Friday 13th is no longer unlucky".
  21. ^ Dutch study shows Friday 13th not more unlucky,
  22. ^ "Historia del accidente - Día a día". Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  23. ^ Bodin, Magnus (13 November 1998). "About the date+day-distribution along the epoch". x42. Retrieved 13 November 1998. 
  24. ^ B.H. Brown and Raphael Robinson, "Solution to Problem E36", American Mathematical Monthly, vol. 40, issue 10 (1933), p. 607; Jean Meeus, Mathematical Astronomy Morsels IV, 2007, p. 367.

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