Friday the 13th… The Myths, The Legends and Strange Happenings…

So it is Friday the 13th! Are you superstitious? Do you suffer from Friggatriskaidekaphobia or Paraskavedekatriaphobia – the phobia of Friday the 13th?

Friday the 13th is usually a lucky day for me… I’m not sure why. I do however have bootcamp later this afternoon – not sure how lucky that is :/

So, how did it all start? According to LiveScience, Friday the 13th is instinctively linked to bad luck, strange happenings and a hockey-masked murderer in a slasher flick of the same name. Even if you do not believe in the curse of Friday the 13th…doesn’t a little voice in your head whisper “what if?…”?

Friday the 13th... The Myths, The Legends and Strange Happenings...

There are so many interesting myths and facts surrounding the number 13….

No expert can verify the origins of Friday the 13th. But the first written references to its wickedness appear around the mid-19th century when William Fowler, a U.S. Army captain, founded the Thirteen Club — a group of 13 men in Manhattan devoted to proving the superstitions were false. The Club grew and at some point apparently included five former U.S. presidents as honorary members. The men gathered for the first time on Friday, Jan. 13, 1881, and their exploits — described in newspapers of the time — included walking under ladders, breaking mirrors and dining as a group in room 13.

In numerology, or the study of the symbolism of numbers, 12 is associated with completeness: whole, perfect and harmonious, as seen in the 12 apostles, 12 Olympic Gods, 12 animals in the Chinese horoscope and 12 months in the Gregorian calendar. Thirteen — by default — is awkward, ungainly and odd.

Thirteen is a loaded number in cultural, religious and mythic history.Nordic mythology tells a tale of the 12 gods gathering for a dinner party, when a 13th guest walked in uninvited. The guest was Loki, a mischievous, trickster god. Loki took his bow and arrow and shot Balder the Beautiful, a god who represents joy and gladness, the story goes. Balder’s death brought darkness and mourning into the world — and possibly lent the concept of a dinner party with 13 guests a shade of misfortune.

In Christianity, some believe that Judas — one of Jesus’ 12 apostles — arrived as the 13th guest to the Last Supper. The next morning, it was Judas who betrayed Jesus, leading to his arrest and crucifixion.

Friday used to be called hanging day as it was customary to execute criminals on this day. There were 13 steps up to the scaffold, 13 turns in a hangman’s noose and 13 pence and a halfpenny paid to the hangman. .

Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue, many high-rise buildings avoid having a 13th floor, some hospitals avoid labeling rooms with the number 13 and many airports will not have a gate 13.

Most skyscrapers do not include a thirteenth floor.  Gregory Johnson bravely included a thirteenth floor in his designs for the Empire State Building in New York.  Three days after its completion, on a Friday, the weight of the building caused it to buckle and it crushed the thirteenth floor.

Popular Superstitions:

  • If you cut your hair on Friday the 13th, someone in your family will die.
  • If a funeral procession passes you on Friday the 13th, you will be the next to die.
  • Do not start a trip on Friday or you will encounter misfortune.
  • If you break a mirror on Friday the 13th, you will have seven years of bad luck.
  • A child born on Friday the 13th will be unlucky for life.
  • Ships that set sail on a Friday will have bad luck.
  • If you walk under a ladder or if a black cat crosses you on Friday the 13th, you will have bad luck.

Strange and Scary Things That Have Happened On Friday the 13th in history…

• Oct. 13th, 1307 – Officers of King Philip IV of France raided the homes of the Knights Templar, who were warrior monks during the Crusades, imprisoning several thousand men on charges of illegal activities. None of these charges were proven, but hundreds suffered excruciating torture intended to force confessions, and more than a hundred died, according to “Tales of the Knights Templar” (Warner Books, 1995).

• August 13th, 1539 – The Aztecs brutally killed 39,000 in one day.  This was done at the request of the recently arrived Hernan Cortez, who claimed to be a god seeking tribute.  The next day he overthrew their empire.

• July 13th, 1821 – Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest was born. He also fought in the Civil War, and eventually distanced himself from the KKK later in his life.

• July 13th, 1860 – American pirate Albert W Hicks was hanged, he confessed to murdering 100 people.

• June 13th, 1884 – Gerald Gardner, the man behind the witchcraft-inspired religion of Wicca, was born.

• August 13th, 1899 – Alfred Hitchcock, a film director with a seriously twisted mind, was born. He would have turned 100-years old on Friday 13th 1999. How appropriate.

• May 13th, 1925  the state of Tennessee declared it unlawful to teach the study of evolution. School kids were only allowed to be taught the biblical story of the creation of man. Scary stuff.

• Sept. 13, 1940 – Five German bombs hit Buckingham Palace and destroyed the Palace Chapel, as part of Hitler’s strategic “Blitz” bombing campaign, according to reports from U.K. newspaper The Guardian.

• June 13, 1952 – A Swedish military DC-3 plane carrying a crew of eight disappeared over international water in the Baltic Sea. This became known as the “Catalina affair” because one of two Catalina rescue planes sent to search for the plane was attacked by Soviet forces. In 1991, the Soviet air force admitted that it had shot down the DC-3 as well, according to the BBC.

On that same day, Massachusetts Governor Kyle McArthur banned all private automotive transportation on the unlucky day.  Nine overcrowded city buses crashed into each other in downtown Boston.

• March 13, 1964 –  Catherine Susan (Kitty) Genovese was stabbed to death on her way to her home in Queens, New York, in the early morning as neighbors heard and saw and didn’t move to help. A newspaper article published shortly after the murder said some 30 or more neighbors had witnessed the event, shocking the nation. It’s possible only a few saw the encounter and others merely heard the woman in distress. It led a sociologist to coin the term “Genovese syndrome” or “the bystander effect”.

Friday the 13th... The Myths, The Legends and Strange Happenings...A scan of a photo of Kitty Genovese as it appeared in the March 27, 1964 New York Times article, “Thirty-Eight Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police.

A scan of a photo of Kitty Genovese as it appeared in the March 27, 1964 New York Times article, “Thirty-Eight Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police.”

• November 13, 1970 – A huge South Asian storm killed an estimated 300,000 people in Chittagong, Bangladesh, and create floods that killed as many as 1 million in the Ganges delta. It was one of the most catastrophic natural events the world had ever seen.

• October 13, 1972 – A plane carrying a rugby team from Montevideo to Chile crashed in the Andes. Twelve people died instantly and more were killed in an avalanche later. Those who survived did so by resorting to cannibalism. The Andes crash was later turned into a film, “Alive.”

On the same Friday the 13th as the Andes crash, another air crash occurred half way around the world that resulted in a far larger loss of life but, like most airplane crashes, is now remembered only as a footnote in the long list of aviation tragedies. An Aeroflot Il-62 airplane carrying 176 people took off from Paris on a commuter flight bound for Leningrad and Moscow. The plane landed at Leningrad and then took off for Sheremetyevo airport, located just outside Moscow. The weather was bad with rain and poor visibility. The pilots were told to descend on approach to the airport. For unknown reasons, they attempted and failed to land twice. On the third attempt to land, the plane crashed into a large pond about 4 miles short of the airport. There were no survivors. No cause of the accident was ever established. At the time, the crash resulted in one of the worst loss of life incidents for a single plane crash, in history. It remains the 44th worse loss of life in an airplane crash in aviation history.

• June 13, 1986 – The Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley, were born… yes that counts…. have you ever looked into the eyes of the devil? 

• January 13, 1989 – The “Friday the 13th virus” infected hundreds of IBM computers across Great Britain, wiping out program files and causing considerable anxiety at a time when large-scale computer viruses were a relatively new threat.This was before backup systems, and adversely affected businesses.

• September 13, 1996 – Musical legend Tupac died a few days after being shot several times in Las Vegas as he left a Mike Tyson boxing match. His death is the source of controversy among fans, some of whom maintain he’s still alive. In one of his songs, Tupac raps about his own funeral.

• August 13th, 2010 – a 13-year-old boy was struck by lightning at 13:13 (1:13 p.m.) in Suffolk, England. The boy’s name was not released, according to British publications the Daily Mail and the Mirror. Rex Clarke, leader of the ambulance team that treated the child, said “the boy was breathing and was conscious. He had a minor burn to his shoulder and was taken to hospital as a precaution. It could have been a lot worse,” he said, adding: “It’s all a bit strange that he was 13, and it happened at 13:13 on Friday the 13th.”

• January 13, 2012 – the cruise ship Costa Concordia partially sank on Friday the 13th. Over 30 people died.

  • Billy Ray Cyrus, Bobby Brown, and Michael Bolton all released albums on Friday the 13th… eek.

4 thoughts on “Friday the 13th… The Myths, The Legends and Strange Happenings…

  1. It was also a lucky day for me yesterday – I found some pajamas for Nicky on sale at Woolworths after not finding them on two other trips. The only “bad” thing was that he refused to nap but that meant an early night with quality time for us – lucky I would say!
    But thanks for listing all the history. Interesting about the 13th floor.


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