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Top 5 Not-So-Freaky Friday the 13th Facts

VO: Chris Masson
Any fans of Jason Voorhees out there? Well... sorry. We’re talking about the calendar date, not a date with a machete. For some superstitious people, this date is just as scary as a classic horror flick... but without the gratuitous nudity or buckets of blood. Then again, for Taylor Swift it's a super lucky day, so go figure? On this installment of Top 5 Facts, we're looking at the weirdest, most mythbusting facts we could find about Friday the 13th.
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Written by Michael Wynands

Top 5 Friday the 13th Facts


Any fans of Jason Voorhees out there? Well... sorry. We’re talking about the calendar date, not a date with a machete. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts. In today’s instalment, we’re counting down the top five facts about Friday the 13th. Some years, it only happens once. Other years, this so-called unlucky day and number pairings happens up to three times. If you’ve got anything planned for next Friday the 13th, maybe stick around as we investigate this superstitious day... then decide if you should take a raincheck.

#5: Be Afraid… But Why? No One Knows For Sure

Fear of Friday the 13th is a real thing. It’s called “paraskevidekatriaphobia,” it affects millions of people, and results in major loss of business for many industries. But what exactly is the root of this fear? There’s no one answer... but there is a complicated history. Many believe it stems from one particularly bad Friday the 13th in 1307, when King Philip IV ordered the arrest of countless Knights Templar, many of whom were tortured and burned at the stake. Others have attributed significance to the fact that there were 13 people at the last supper before Jesus was crucified on Good Friday. But there is no specific mention of “Friday the 13th” until the late 19th century, when the combination of “Friday” and “13” are called unlucky in reference to the death of composer Gioachino Rossini.

#4: Our Psychological Associations Are Partially to Blame

We may never learn the exact origins of this superstitious day, but we CAN endeavor to understand its curious power in our allegedly logic-driven modern culture. Ultimately, it’s all about control. When we are faced with a situation in which the outcome is beyond our control, superstition kicks in. According to Psychologist Stuart Vyse, superstition is a tool that enables the brain to feel as if it’s exerting control over in such scenarios, through abstract associations we’ve made with actions such as “knocking on wood”. So if anything remotely bad happens to someone on Friday the 13th, they’re likely to believe the superstition - the association is all setup, and the slightest mishap confirms it. This goes both ways though. For Taylor Swift, the number 13 has already been incredibly lucky, even on Fridays.

#3: It’s Not A Global Day of Bad Luck

T. Swift isn’t alone in shaking off the superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th. For various cultures around the world and throughout history, the number 13 has been a lucky one, including Italy and Ancient Greece. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have their very own superstitions, though. In Italy, Friday the 17th is the unlucky date. In China, 4 is considered an unlucky number because it is phonetically similar to the word “death”. In Kenya, any number ending with 7 is unlucky. Never one to be left out of a debate… science has weighed in, and found Friday the 13th to be wanting. According to various studies, Friday the 13th shows no increase in surgical complications, natural disasters or accidents.

#2: The Thirteen Club: Dedicated to Debunking Superstitions

Members of the scientific community aren’t the only ones who have put superstition to the test. In the Thirteen Club, governors, judges, men of high military rank and five U.S. Presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, joined in on the fun. Founded in the 1880s by Captain William Fowler, a Civil War vet, the club existed for the sole purpose of breaking every superstitious rule out there. Thirteen men would gather together on Friday the 13th to walk under ladders, break mirrors and glasses, keep umbrellas open indoors and spilled salt with reckless abandon. Seated under a banner of Latin script that translated to “We who are about to die salute you”, they laughed superstition in the face while invoking even the most deadly of superstitions - and survived.

#1: There Have Undeniably Been Bad Fridays Throughout History

Regardless of where the Thirteen Club, scientists and the almighty Taylor Swift stand on the matter, when you back look back on this date in history… it’s hard to deny that there have been a lot of bad days. In 1939, the Black Friday bushfires killed 71 Australians. In 1940, Nazis dropped a bomb on Buckingham palace. In 1951, Kansas experienced record-breaking flooding. In 1970, the Bhola cyclone killed an estimated 500,000 people in Bangladesh. In 1989, there was a stock market crash. We could keep going. There have been some good thirteenth Fridays throughout history, like the unveiling of the Hollywood sign, the 1854 patent of the accordion, and the birth of the Olsen twins. With that evidence from both sides… we’ll let you be the judge.

Be honest, are you superstitious? Is there anything you’d avoid doing on Friday the 13th, like asking for a raise, getting on a plane or going on a first date? For more I want to believe Top 10s and the truth is out there Top 5s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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