Is Friday the 13th really unlucky?

Nov 12, 2015

There are three Fridays the 13th in 2015 – bad news for the friggatriskaidekaphobics


This year, three Fridays fall on the 13th day of the month, compared to just one in 2014 and in 2016 – a triple whammy for the superstitious. Friggatriskaidekaphobics, those who fear Friday the 13th, might want to stay at home tomorrow – but for everyone else, there could be savings to be made.

Why is Friday the 13th seen as unlucky?

Friday is traditionally considered an unlucky day and 13 an unlucky number. In numerology, 13 is deemed an "irregular number" and is the number of witches you need to form a coven. It also dates back to a Nordic myth in which 12 gods hold a dinner party at Valhalla. The 13th guest is Loki, the god of mischief, who arranges for the god of joy and gladness to be killed.

In the Bible, Judas was supposedly the 13th guest to sit down at the last supper, and Jesus was believed to have been crucified on a Friday. In Canterbury Tales, Chaucer also references Friday as being an unlucky day: "And on a Friday fell all this mischance." It was also historically known as the day that people were hanged in Britain. As a result of the superstitions arising from these beliefs, many passenger airlines do not have a row 13 and many hotels will often skip floor 13 to appease nervous customers.

Is Friday the 13th actually unlucky?

Analysis of ten years' worth of data from car insurer Aviva found that car accident claims increased by an average of – you guessed it – 13 per cent on Friday the 13th, compared to other days in the same month. However, other studies suggest fewer accidents and fires occur because people take more care on Friday the 13th, says The Independent

Dr Caroline Watt, from the University of Edinburgh's department of psychology, has said that holding such superstitions could prove the greatest risk. "If people believe in the superstition of Friday the 13th then they believe they are in greater danger on that day. As a result they may be more anxious and distracted and this could lead to accidents. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Historian Donald Dossey once told the National Geographic that Friday the 13th costs the American economy approximately $800 to $900 million because people are afraid to fly and do the business that they would normally carry out. Those trying to sell their house might also be out of luck tomorrow, as research by found that, from 2005 to 2012, there were 43 per cent fewer transactions on Fridays that fell on the 13th compared to regular Fridays.

On the plus side, the Daily Telegraph notes that Friday the 13th is therefore the cheapest day to fly, and it can provide "weird bargains" for the brave. House sales tomorrow are "likely to run more smoothly" given that staff handling the transactions will have more time on their hands, says the newspaper, while happy couples hoping to tie the knot might be able to haggle a discount with suppliers for a Friday the 13th wedding.

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