What are Friday the 13th Superstitions? [Origins & Meaning]

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Written by: Tina Caro

Have you ever wondered why Friday the 13th provokes so much superstition? Here are some theories that would be the basis of the birth of this belief.

Let’s learn more about this date, its origins, and how to face it the right way!

Why is Friday the 13th believed to be bad?

Someone, waking up, will have had the creeps when reading the date marked on the calendar: Friday 13!

Historically, in the collective imagination, this day of the week and this number associated together are synonymous with various misfortunes, so much so that director Sean Cunningham took a cue from the fateful date to create one of the scariest slasher series in cinema, whose protagonist is the horrible Jason Voorhees, who, perhaps with Freddie Kruger, is one of the most recurring nightmares of teenagers of the 80s and 90s.

But how did this superstition come about that, like the others, is nourished more by suggestion than by actual historical evidence that may have contributed to creating the “legend”? And above all, is Friday the 13th associated with bad luck all over the world?

Let’s begin to understand what ties the number 13 and Friday to bad luck, first of all.

The origins of this superstition

Some, for example, the Nordic peoples, think that 13 is a bearer of misfortune, since in the mythology of the Asi it is the number that corresponds to Loki, the thirteenth pagan deity, god of deceit and evil, cruel to all men. Those who have seen the movie Thor also know of the terrible Loki, brother of the god with the hammer, even attentive to the cosmic order!

But even among the peoples of the Mediterranean, 13 was at least regarded with suspicion, probably because in the numerology of the Assyrian-Babylonian astronomers it was not as perfect as 12, which is divisible in many ways.

According to the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, however, Philip II, king of Macedon and father of Alexander the Great, was killed by one of his bodyguards for having his own statue placed next to those of the twelve gods of Olympus, and his death was punishment for this act of defiance to the gods.

As for the Bible, however, as is well known, Judas was the thirteenth guest.

Thus, the 13th was associated with misfortunes and negative events.

Why Friday is considered to “worst” day of the week?

The bad reputation of Friday, on the other hand, has its roots in the Christian religion, since on that very day of the week Jesus was crucified and killed.

However, we do not have to get to the New Testament to find traces of the misfortune associated with Friday, since, according to tradition, the expulsion from Eden of Adam and Eve would have taken place on Friday, as well as the first fratricide in history, that of Cain against Abel.

Other biblical events associated with Friday are the beheading of St. John the Baptist and the enactment of the order of Herod for the massacre of the innocents.

Let’s forget about the Bible and see some historical facts that certainly contributed to paying off the bad reputation of the day: the great crash in 1869, when the price of gold plummeted, was on Friday. But we also remember the mass arrest of the Knights Templar, opposed by the King of France, Philip IV, known as Il Bello, who would not have spared them torture to make them confess to crimes they never committed, so much so that the Templars would have launched a curse on Friday the 13th, which has lasted up to the present day.

In any case, to the peoples of the North, 13 is now irremediably associated with the idea of misfortune, while Italy is an exception, given that we are especially afraid of 17.

“Different” Italy

I have so many feelings when thinking about Friday the 13th, as in Italy things are a bit different! Thinking of the coupons of the old Totocalcio, in which you won by making your own 13, we understand that in Italy this number is not so feared. As for the days of the week, the most frightening time is undoubtedly Tuesday, historically a day dedicated, in Roman culture, to the god of war and discord, Mars.

As we know, however, in ancient times, the suggestions were different; just think of the many prophecies, from Friar Malachi to the famous Nostradamus, so it was quite common for certain superstitions to spread: for example, the one that said children born on Friday would not have had an easy life, or the one according to which leap years are harbingers of misfortune.


In our country, as mentioned, however, another number has earned the reputation of “bad luck”, namely 17: the writing that appears on graves, “VIXI”, or “I lived” (I lived, but now I’m dead), is an anagram of the Roman numeral XVII.

Another explanation, less convoluted, suggests that December 17th and February 17th, in ancient Rome, were the days dedicated to the celebration of Saturnalia and Quirinalia: the former was a cycle of celebrations dedicated to Saturn, which coincided with the arrival of winter and foresaw sacrifices to keep away the creatures of the underworld, the world of Saturn; the latter, on the other hand, were celebrations set up by Numa Pompilius, in which everyone was allowed to roast spelt, which was otherwise only allowed for some clans who worked it in guilds. It was, basically, the day of the outsiders, the excluded, and the losers, in short.

Saturnalia (1783) by Antoine Callet, showing his interpretation of what the Saturnalia might have looked like

Whatever the true origin of this belief, the fact remains that even today many people believe that 17 brings bad luck, so much so that football players hardly wear the number 17 and that even in buildings it is not easy to find a room labeled 17; many prefer to call it 16B, for example.


Many of us know many types of phobias, but in all likelihood, triskaidekaphobia is not one of the best known and most widespread. It is the unreasonable fear of the number 13 and in some cultures, such as the Anglo-Saxon one, there are various beliefs related to Friday 13. The term was coined by Isador.

Friday the 13th superstitions list

The superstitions linked to Friday the 13th have given way to bizarre behavior in all areas that have now become curious and interesting anecdotes. It is not uncommon, for example, for some of your guests to ask how many there are at the table because it is considered inappropriate to be 13 at the table. Here are also some international examples where the number 13 is deliberately ignored.

  • According to superstition, in some buildings, the 13th floor is referred to differently (for example “12b” or “14”, thus jumping in the numbering from “12th” to “14th”). This happens, for example, at One Canada Square in Canary Wharf. The same goes for house numbers and room numbers, as already mentioned;
  • The German fighter aircraft heir to the He-112 was named He-100 to avoid the unfortunate name He-113. In the United States, moreover, no aircraft carries or has ever carried the name of F-13, because many pilots would have refused to board;
  • According to many, the Apollo 13 lunar mission, undeniably marked by a series of dramatic events, would be the definitive testimony of how 13 is a nefarious figure. Apollo 13, however, was launched into orbit at 2:13pm from complex 39, triple that of 13. The local Texas clock, where the mission control tower was located, showed 1.13pm;
  • Memphis International Airport does not have gates A13, B13, or C13;
  • Arnold Schoenberg, a famous composer, was probably very superstitious. His last work is called “Moses and Aron” instead of “Moses and Aaron” as would have been correct. The reason? The composer avoided 13-letter titles like the plague. By a bizarre law of retaliation, the artist was born and died on the thirteenth day of the month. During his life, he refused to take a house at number 13 and was terrified of the idea of turning 76 because 7 + 6 results in 13.
  • In tarot, 13 is associated with the Death card, though in the same tarot Death is considered positive because it is interpreted as a sign of resurrection;
  • The famous actor Stan Laurel changed his surname so that the sum of the letters was not 13: his original name is Stan Jefferson.
Arnold Schoenberg, a famous composer.

Other numbers linked to superstitions and bad luck all around the world

13 isn’t the only unlucky number in the world. Depending on the countries and different cultures, the unlucky numbers are different.


It is called heptacaidecaphobia and exists only in Italy. The story of fear of the number 17 has its origins in the Greek civilization; in fact, 17 was associated with the sphere of evil first by the Greeks, then by the Romans, and finally by the Neapolitan Smorfia.

4 and 7

In China, Japan, and South Korea, the number 4 brings bad luck because the Chinese pronunciation (shi) is similar to that of the word death. But we must also stay away from number 7, because the seventh month of the Chinese calendar is linked to ghosts and corresponds to the return of the souls of the deceased to Earth.


In the Bible’s apocalyptic book of Revelation, John the Apostle refers to 666 as “the number of the beast”. This “beast” is interpreted by many as the Antichrist, so this number scares everyone a little, even those who are not superstitious.

Also read:
How to Remove Bad Omen from Home? [Powerful Methods]
Powerful 27 Bad Omens Everyone Should Be Aware Of [A List]

When will be the Next Friday the 13th?

Friday the 13th is certainly one of the most feared days of the year, so much so that it has inspired horror films and superstitions of all kinds. I want to shed some light on something in 2020: there were 2 Friday the 13ths, March 13th, and November 13th. If we were superstitious we would already have an explanation for what is happening in the world.

But there is no limit to the worst. If we limit ourselves to the calendar, in the next ten years, we find that 2026 will be the most unfortunate year, with three Friday the 13ths: in February, March, and November!

How to get through these Fridays?

If you wake up in the morning and it’s Friday the 13th, well, I want you to stay calm and don’t panic! Don’t forget that if you start creating a negative spiral made up of concern, anxiety, and stress, for sure this approach will attract more and more negativity.

Do something you like and, if you keep panicking over this date, meditate and spend some time outside to shake your mind and keep bad thoughts away! It’s only 24 hours and I bet you can find a way to survive!

Tina Caro

Tina Caro is a witch with more than 10 years of experience, a yogi, an astrologer, and a passionate supporter of all things holistic! She’s also an owner of the website Magickal Spot where she discusses a variety of her favorite topics.

Magickal Spot has helped thousands of readers worldwide, and she’s personally worked with hundreds of clients and helped them manifest desires to have a happier and more abundant life.

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