gettyimages 3092550 An unlucky fear of Friday the 13th

20th June 1945: The Handley-Page ‘Halifax’ bomber ‘Friday the 13th’ at the British Aircraft exhibition at the site of Lewis’ bombed store in Oxford Street, London. The insignia of miniature bombs includes 118 of the 128 trips the craft has made and the ribbons of the VC, DSO and DFC, won by crewmen. The slogan reads ‘As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap’. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

By Jonathan Kaupanger

Whether you’re paraskevidekatriaphobic or suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia, today probably just isn’t your day.  But, did you know that Friday the 13th actually is bad for you? There’s scientific evidence to back it up too.

Back in 1993, a study was published in the British Medical Journal called Is Friday the 13th bad for your health?, and the conclusion is, yes, Friday the 13th is unlucky – for some people.  According to the study, “The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52%.  Staying at home is recommended.”

When you’re in the military, staying home on Friday the 13th isn’t an option.  About a hundred years ago, the British government had a problem with superstitious sailors.  It was considered very unlucky to set sail on a Friday.  So to prove that this was just silly, a special ship was commissioned and given the name HMS Friday.  The keel was laid on a Friday, the crew was selected on a Friday, she was launched on Friday and the captain they picked was a man named Jim Friday.  The HMS Friday started her maiden voyage on a Friday and was never seen or heard from again.

Friday the 13th is serious business or serious LACK of business. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute estimates that $700 to $800 million is lost every Friday the 13th because people refuse to travel, won’t purchase major items or some just won’t conduct business on the date.

Every year has at least one Friday the 13th. The max we can have is three per year.  Strangely enough, the 13th falls on a Friday more often than any other day of the week.  If you look at 4,800 months, the 13th hits on Friday 688 times.  Monday and Tuesday fall on the 13th day of the month 685 times each.  Wednesday and Sundays are on the 13th 687 times and Thursday and Saturdays make it only 684 times per every 400 years.

Getting to the bottom of when our fear of Friday the 13th started is a bit difficult.  There’s the Code of Hammurabi, which is the world’s oldest legal document and supposedly the 13th law was omitted.  The problem with this is the code doesn’t numerically list its laws, so that can’t be it.

black cat 13th An unlucky fear of Friday the 13th

The 13th Armored Division went out of its way to play up its “bad luck” image.

Mathematicians like to say that the number 12 was often considered a perfect number in the ancient world. It’s believed that since ancient man had 10 fingers and two feet, the highest they could count was to 12. This is the basis of why there are 12 months in a calendar.  A day is made up of two 12-hour sections.  There are 12 tribes of Israel, 12 Apostles of Jesus and 12 Descendants of Muhammad Imams.  With 12 being so “perfect,” 13 really just didn’t stand a chance.

Two other popular origin theories surround a dinner. In the Bible, at the Last Supper, there were 13 guests and the last to arrive, Judas Iscariot, ended up betraying Jesus. In Viking mythology there was a big dinner in Valhalla, and all the gods were invited.  The last to arrive was Loki, the god of evil and mischief, and as one would expect from Loki, he started in with the drama right away.  (He was later tied to a rock with the entrails of one or more of his sons.  So the moral of this story is, if you are invited to dinner at Valhalla, find out how many invites were sent out and plan your arrival accordingly.)

In modern culture, 13 is considered unlucky which is why more than 80 percent of hi-rise buildings in the US don’t have a 13th floor.  The number 13 is avoided in hospitals and airports for the most part too.  Having 13 letters in your name means you’ll be cursed. Just think about Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy or Albert De Salvo and you’ll start seeing a pattern.  And just in case you’re wondering, Adolf Hitler’s baptismal name was actually Adolfus Hitler.

Friday’s bad rap even goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Supposedly Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit on a Friday.  The Great Flood is said to have begun on a Friday, which seems logical enough.  Why not ruin a good weekend with a flood, right?  The Tower of Babel drama came to a head on a Friday.  Solomon’s temple was destroyed on a Friday and of course the Crucifixion took place on a Friday.

On the pagan side of things, the Romans used Friday as execution day. For pre-Christian cultures Friday was the Sabbath, the day of worship, so if you pampered yourself in worldly ways on a Friday, you couldn’t expect to get God’s blessing.

Legend says you should never change the sheets on your bed on a Friday. If you do, you’ll have bad dreams.  Cutting your nails on a Friday means you cut them for sorrow.  Taking a trip that starts on a Friday will only bring you bad luck, just consider the sad tale of the HMS Friday.

As you can imagine, HMS Friday didn’t do anything to help public opinion of either Friday or the number 13.  Maybe because it never really happened, its century-old fake news.  The Royal Navy never had a ship named Friday or any other day of the week for that matter.  There was the HMS Ark Royal, after a major overhaul, it was relaunched on Friday, June 13, 2001 and served successfully until decommissioning in 2011.

Have a wonderful and uneventful Friday the 13th.

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