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Friday the 13th

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MrShaw's picture
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Cromwell Tank Unlucky Number

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Are you driving carefully?  Are you hiding at home in fear of disasters just waiting to pounce on you due to the date?  If you you are probably suffering from Friggatriskaidekaphobia.

There are lots of theories surrounding why we believe this particular date is unlucky, and it would seem most of the are unfounded.  While looking into this, I was rather surprised to find that the word itself only came about around 1911. This was because, the fear of the day itself is not as old as we would think.

I had always believed that the date was first recognized as unlucky due to the Templar story, where King Phillip ordered the arrest of all Templars due to their power and wealth on October 13th 1307.  I first come across this theory in the book  Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

Another theory is that 13 is an unlucky number as it the 1st number after 12, which is consider a complete number, linked to the amount of months in a year, the 12 numbers on a clock, the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 Apostles of Jesus and more. 13 is past completeness, and when linked to Norse myths and the Last Supper, it was thought that it would cause the death of one of those at the table.

Friday has been thought of as an unlucky day since at least as far back as the 14th century, with the publication of The Canterbury Tales.  possibly even further back with the public perception that Jesus was crucified on a Friday. The term Black Friday came about in the 1800's and was used to describe Stock Market crashes, which is still in use today.

Another theory is that when Christians were attempting to paint all things Pagan in a bad light, they took the number 13, which was lucky in Pagan thinking, added to the already assumed bad lucky of Friday.  King Harold cemented this theory by deciding to go into battle on Friday the 13th.  He died, as we all know, and his troops were given a good kicking.

Researchers have found little, if no evidence that Friday the 13th was commonly referenced as an unlucky day until 1907, when a book called "Friday the 13th" was published, and they attribute this book the reason that it has gained so much (un)popularity.

Friday the 13th

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Research has suggested that in America between $800 to $900 million is lost everyday time Friday the 13th swings around due to fear which can go as far as rendering people paralyzed in their beds (The best sick day excuse I have ever heard, can I get a doctors note?)

In Holland however, studies have proved that you are less likely to have a car accident due to people driving more carefully, fire damage has less chance of occuring and theft statistics drop due to poeple not even leaving home for the day.

So does it have you hiding under the bedsheets, quivering in fear?  Or are you like me, of the thought that it's a load of old cobblers, and if a marketing company can figure out a way of making money out of it, we will be sending greeting cards in the future?

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Kuncen's picture
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Flying on the 13th

Wow, great job researching all this! I had no idea there were so many different theories about the origins of 'Friday the 13th'. Don't be afraid to post this sort of thing as an article for the front page - it's definitely 'worthy'.

I was on an airplane on Friday the 13th, and nothing bad happened to me, although our flight was delayed (oooh!!)