Friday the 13th: The Origins of Fear of the Date!

Today’s date has for centuries been considered an omen of bad luck.  A day that carries with it a “death curse” if you will.  Unlucky 13 and the ominous weekday of Friday can instantly bring paranoia and a heightened sense of worry.  Sure, modern day mention of Friday the 13th instantly brings the mental image of our beloved hockey-masked killer Jason Voorhees, as the cinematic franchise has been burned into the consciousness of film-goers for years.  But in all honesty, Friday the 13th’s horrific legacy long predates the birth of Pamela Voorhees only son and would be mass-murder.  While there is not one direct answer to the origins of people’s dread of this calendar date, many theories point to myths and legends that have contributed. 

Superstitious types have feared Friday the 13th since medieval times.  In October of 1307, King Philip IV ordered numerous members of the Templar Knights to be arrested and burnt at the stake for moral crimes which has been said to have occurred on a Friday the 13th.  Heavy biblical ties have also contributed to the superstition.  In fact, according to the Old Testament, the first murder of mankind took place on a Friday when Cain killed his own brother Abel.  To further the unlucky coincidence, it is believed that Jesus was crucified on a Friday.

So Friday itself has a bad reputation when looking back in history, but chances are the fear relates more to the number 13.  Typically thought of as unlucky, 13 is often used to represent a darker side of things.  Most significantly is when considering the tarot deck.  The 13th card in a tarot deck is the death card! Going back to biblical history, it is no coincidence that Judas was the 13th Apostle, and ultimately the one who betrayed Christ.  This circumstance of The Last Supper led to an ongoing superstition that it was unlucky to dine with 13 guests. 

Scientists have coined the term triskaidekaphobia to represent the fear of the number 13.  In society this fear has had clear effect on various areas including most hotels refusing to have a 13th floor.  But why the number 13?  It could be for the reasons already mentioned including biblical reference, or that the previous number 12 often represents a whole amount of items; 12 months in a year, 12 zodiac signs, etc.  Add one more and people seem to feel uneasy. 

Whatever the true origins of the nature of fear surrounding the Friday the 13th date, which is also commonly referred to as Black Friday, it still brings a chill to the ear when people realize one is approaching.  Given this fact, it’s understandable that then aspiring film maker Sean S. Cunningham would purchase the title and begin promoting it before even having a script or story in mind.  These events of course would come to inspire the original Friday the 13th film in 1980 and go on to form one of, if not the, biggest horror genre franchises of all time that continues to this date.  Happy Friday the 13th!

For more details on these facts about Friday the 13th, check out the Wikipedia page here:

And to celebrate today in style, explore the whole film history on the Franchise website here: