5 things you might not know about Friday the 13th

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5 things you might not know about Friday the 13th

By Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com | Posted - Jul. 13, 2018 at 11:05 a.m.



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CAMP CRYSTAL LAKE — It’s not just a freaky film franchise; Friday the 13th has been making people superstitious for centuries.

Today is the second and final Friday the 13th of 2018. If you’re superstitious, though, I have bad news: You’ll have to endure two more Fridays the 13th's in 2019 and another two the year after that.

Some of you will likely revisit the classic slasher films named after the day. But if horror movies aren’t your thing, here are five things you might not know about this famously frightening date to help you commemorate the occasion.

There are words to describe the fear of Friday the 13th

If “fear of Friday the 13th” is too unwieldy a phrase for you, consider using one of two unofficial words for the fear — paraskavedekatriaphobia (par-uh-skah-vuh-dek-uh-tri-uh-foh-bee-uh) or friggatriskaidekaphobia (fr-ih-gah-tris-kahy-dek-uh-foh-bee-uh).

OK, so neither of those words is much shorter.

Triskaidekaphobia refers to the superstition about the number 13 and can also be used to refer to fear of Friday the 13th, according to Oxford Dictionaries. Paraskavedekatriaphobia is a more specific term for fear of the day and is derived from the Greek word Paraskevi, meaning Friday.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia is named after Frigg, the Norse goddess whose name evolved into the word “Friday” in English.

Friday the 13th superstitions may be rooted in religion

The fear and negative connotation surrounding Friday the 13th and the number 13 might have stemmed from the Last Supper.

The famous Biblical meal featured 13 guests — Jesus and his 12 disciples. The 13th disciple, Judas, betrayed Jesus the night before he was executed. That, combined with Jesus being crucified on a Friday (Good Friday), might be behind some of the superstitions surrounding this day, according to National Geographic.

Some theology scholars also believe Cain killed his brother Abel on a Friday and that Eve gave Adam the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden on a Friday, according to National Geographic.

Various unfortunate events have happened on Friday the 13th

In addition to those baneful Biblical events, a few ominous things have happened on Friday the 13th in the modern era.

  • During World War II, Germans bombed Buckingham Palace on Friday, Sept. 13, 1940, in one of the most devastating bombings of many that hit the palace during the war.
  • In 1970, a devastating cyclone made landfall on Nov. 12 and Friday, Nov. 13 in east India and Bangladesh. The disaster is thought to have killed up to half a million people.
  • Rapper Tupac Shakur died on Friday, Sept. 13, 1996, six days after he was shot.
  • In 2012, the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia collided with underwater rocks and was wrecked off the coast of Italy. The disaster killed 32 people.

A club was formed in the 1880s to break the Friday the 13th stigma

The number 13 was significant for Union Capt. William Fowler. He fought in 13 Civil War battles, built 13 buildings and attended Public School 13, according to the Paris Review.

Fowler formed a group known as the Thirteen Club, which had its first meeting on Friday, Jan. 13, 1882, at 8:13 p.m. in room 13 of a building.

To get to the club’s meetings, members had to walk under a ladder. They then ate a 13-course meal.

The Thirteen Club didn’t really do much beyond that, but it did entice U.S. presidents Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison and Theodore Roosevelt, who all joined the club at different points.

Not all cultures think Friday the 13th is unlucky

People in other countries may not think Friday the 13th is unlucky, like we Jason Voorhees-fearing Americans do.

In some Spanish-speaking cultures, Tuesday the 13th is considered unlucky, according to the Huffington Post. The Spanish word for Tuesday — “Martes” — is derived from Mars. Known as the god of war in ancient Roman culture, Mars is sometimes equated with death.

In Italy, the number 17 is considered unlucky, and days falling on the 17th are sometimes a bad omen for Italians.

Rearranging the Roman numeral for 17 (XVII) gets you VIXI, which can be translated in Italian to mean “I have lived,” according to The Independent. That phrase can imply that one’s life is over or that death is imminent.

Because of the bad connotation Italians see in the number, some Italian planes have no row 17, and some hotels don’t have rooms numbered 17, according to The Independent.

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