Friday the 13th is a seriously unlucky day, feared by millions of people. It even has a phobia named after it – friggatriskaidekaphobia. (The word is a combination of Frigg [the Norse goddess of wisdom from which we get the word Friday], triskaideka [the Greek words for 13],and phobia.) Though many superstitious people are wary of the day, it wasn’t like this until the 1800’s. Part of it may stem from religion – more specifically, The Last Supper when Judas Iscariot was the 13th diner. Thus, some people believe if 13 people have dinner together, one of them is bound to die soon. Alternatively, Friday was the standard day for public hangings throughout Britain, and it’s believed there were 13 steps leading up to the gallows and 13 knots in the noose.
The bad news for any Friday the 13th worriers is that every year will have at least one Friday the 13th, and some years will have up to three (which, ironically, is actually a lucky number). The good news is research has not found the date to be particularly more unlucky than any other day, though this doesn’t really calm people with friggatriskaidekaphobia. Check out these strange and oddly unlucky happenings in our list of 25 Terribly Unlucky Things That Happened On Friday The 13th.
Last Updated on
One of the oldest suppositions of Friday the 13th's origins dates back to 1307 when French King Philip IV ordered the arrest and death of thousands of Crusaders.
Just before Halloween in 1989, the New York Stock Exchange crashed on Friday the 13th, sending the Dow Jones plummeting by nearly 191 points in a single day - the second worst in history at the time.
On Friday the 13th, 2010, a 13 year-old boy was struck by lightening at 1313 (1:13pm) in England. He miraculously survived with only a small burn.
The Aztec Empire came to an abrupt and unexpected end on Friday the 13th, August 1521, when Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés overran the city of Tenochtitlán, renaming it Mexico City and ending the once-powerful empire.
Since millions of people are scared to travel or work on any given Friday the 13th, the world loses an estimated $900 million every time this day comes around.
New Yorker Daz Baxter chose to stay in bed on Friday the 13th in August 1976 to keep away from any potential bad luck. It seems bad luck came to him as his apartment block collapsed, and he fell six stories to his death.
The year 1989 also saw the "Friday the 13th virus" infect hundreds of IBM computers in the United Kingdom, permanently erasing loads of data in an age before computer backups.
A recent Friday the 13th disaster, in 2012 the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground near Isola del Giglio, killing 32 people.
Joshua Dudley's uncle passed away in late 1995. His lawyers called to tell him he inherited an estate worth $3 million from his dear uncle. The trouble was Dudley was at the Fabergé egg exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art when he received the call - his happy dance caused $4 million in damages.
Ever heard of the psychological phenomenon known as the Bystander Effect? It's when people in a group feel they don't need to help someone in need because someone else will do it. It's said over 30 neighbors watched as Catherine Susan Genovese was stabbed to death in Queens, New York City, on Friday the 13th, 1964, but failed to call the police or do anything at all.
Bush-fires ravaged the Australian state of Victoria on Friday the 13th, January 1939. The fires killed 36 people on that day alone and destroyed 75% of the state.
On Friday the 13th, October 1972, a plane crashed in the Andes mountains. Of the people on board, 12 immediately died, more died in the ensuing avalanche, and the ones who survived became cannibals. On the same day, a plane from Leningrad to Moscow also crashed, killing all 160 people on board.
Prostitute Frances Cole was brutally murdered when her throat was cut from ear-to-ear on Friday the 13th, February 1891, in London. Her murder is believed to be the last of the infamous Whitechapel murders carried out by Jack the Ripper.
Researcher Tawny Wetzel was trying to determine if there was a correlation between the ominous date and visits to the emergency room. She was tragically killed on Friday the 13th, January 1977, in a hornet attack.
Some pretty scary people have been born on Friday the 13th, including master of suspense and thriller film director Alfred Hitchcock and former Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the founders of the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan, was also born on Friday the 13th, July 1821.
Adolf Hitler's Blitz offensive was meant to destroy the city of London through a barrage of bombings. On Friday the 13th, September 1940, Nazi planes bombed Buckingham Palace, destroying the chapel. Luckily, the Royal Family was out for tea at the time.
November 13th, 1970 saw one of the worst natural disasters in all of history. In just one day, 500,000 people in Bangladesh were killed by the intense tropical Cyclone Bhola.
Britain's unluckiest man of 1998 was John Sheridan. He previously had his car stolen five times in one day, had eight television sets explode in just six months, and lost out on £4000 of lottery winnings after forgetting to take the ticket out of his trousers before washing them. On Friday the 13th, 1998, his car ran out of gasoline. He found a ride with a police officer whose car also proceeded to break down at the gas station. Sheridan walked back to his car with a can of gas but a wheel came off as he turned a corner. He took a bus home which, you guessed it, also broke down.
On Friday the 13th, October 1972, New Yorker Dana Hamilton sold her beautiful hair to a wig maker to be able to afford a gold chain for her husband's cherished pocket watch. She returned home with the chain that night only to discover her husband sold his pocket watch to buy a pearl necklace for the secretary with whom he was having an affair.
Justin Bartlett was imprisoned in Texas and slated to be executed in 1992. This death row inmate was given a reprieve on Wednesday the 11th of January just before his scheduled execution. However, he unceremoniously died two days later on Friday the 13th from poisoning during his last meal on that Wednesday.
Hurricane Charley hit south Florida on August 13th, 2004, battering the state for over six days and causing over $11 billion in damages.
Arguably the most famous rapper of all time, Tupac Shakur, died on Friday the 13th, September 1996, from gunshot wounds incurred after leaving a Mike Tyson boxing match in Las Vegas a few days earlier.
While we're not sure exactly what will happen, on Friday the 13th in April 2029, Asteroid 99942 Apophis is forecasted to pass closer to Earth than any of our orbiting satellites. (A bit of a buzzkill for Friday the 13th believers - since then, the chance of impact has been significantly reduced after more advanced calculations were made.)
The first famous American daredevil was Sam Patch, gaining notoriety in 1829 after jumping into the Niagara River from over two-thirds of the way to the top of Niagara Falls. Later that same year, he decided to jump off the 99 feet (30 m) high High Falls above the Genesee River. After not raising as much money as he aimed for during his Friday the 6th of November jump, he repeated his stunt on the following Friday (the 13th) where he fell to his death.
There are other numbers besides 13 that influence our lives. Check out 25 Famous Numbers Any Why They Are Important.