Walking under a ladder, encountering a black cat, breaking a mirror or cutting your hair are only a few of the many things people avoid on Friday the 13th. This day falls on our calendars between one to three times a year and has been marked with superstition since around 1700 B.C.
The origin of these superstitions remain a mystery, but many myths have developed to explain the circumstances that have marked Friday the 13th as the unfortunate day it has become.
Along with being the number necessary for witches to form a coven, the number 13 has been considered unlucky since Jesus’ Last Supper. Due to the fact that Jesus dined with twelve Apostles prior to his death, a common superstition evolved that if thirteen people choose to dine together, one of the members will die within a year.
Friday has also been associated with a feeling of unease because many Christians believe that Jesus’ crucifixion fell on a Friday. Another theory points Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales responsible for Friday’s unlucky reputation as Chaucer refers to Friday as a day of misfortune and ill luck.
However, these superstitions are not the only reason people have continued to fear Friday the 13th. Many tragic events throughout history have fallen on this day, validating those who believe the day is cursed. The bombing of Buckingham Palace took place on September 13, 1940 along with a more recent event in 2010, when a 13-year-old boy was struck by lightning on Friday the 13th at 13:13.
The negative aura surrounding the number 13 has led many cities around the world to omit it in their street signs, high rise building floors and hospital room numbers.
According to the North Carolina Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute, today between 17 to 21 million people in the United States alone are believed to have friggatriskaidekaphobia, a fear of Friday the 13th.
In a survey sent out to the Hockaday Faculty and Upper school, a few anonymous sources reported their unusual experiences on this day. From broken elevators, to dead fish members of the Hockaday community have experienced their very own bad luck on Friday the 13th. One source reported that their husband and twin brother were born on Friday the 13th, leaving them marked with bad luck for life according to the popular myth.
Although some people have begun to challenge the superstitions held on this day. One of these skeptics, Dr. Caroline Watt of the University of Edinburgh argues that those who believe in the superstition of Friday the 13th in turn believe they are in greater danger on that day and as result their anxiety may cause them to become more distracted leading to accidents and affirming their original beliefs.
Additionally, in 2008, according to the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics, less accidents involving fire and theft occurred on Friday the 13th than any other Friday. Researchers support this statistic with the belief that more people chose to stay home or act more cautiously on this day.
Whether these superstitions ring true, or not, it never hurts to be overly cautious, especially on Friday the 13th.
– Amelia Brown – Asst. Sports and Health Editor -