Amy Steward

On Friday the 13th our Photo Editor, Carly Earnest, sits under a ladder in the main foyer, a Friday the 13th superstition. Avoid any superstitious activities.

The Unlucky History of Friday the 13th

May 13, 2022

Walking under ladders, opening an umbrella indoors, and seeing a black cat are all common superstitions. What about the number 13?

Every couple of months, Friday the 13th comes around — about two or three times a year. Some may see it as an ordinary day; however, many people are cautious of the unlucky connotations it holds. This day has been considered unlucky for centuries, but the full reason why is unknown.

The most prevalent theory is that when writing and numerical systems were first set up thousands of years ago, most — like that of the Sumerians with 12 months and two 12-hour halves in a day — were based on the number 12. This is because that was far as a person could count on their body, with ten fingers and two feet (they didn’t think to count their toes). Because 12 was the base, 13 was seen as unlucky because it is past what is known and therefore mysterious.

The unluckiness of the number 13 can also be attributed to Biblical tradition. The Last Supper occurred on Maundy Thursday, and included Jesus and the 12 disciples. It was the day before Jesus’s crucifixion, so many people now see thirteen dinner guests as unlucky. In fact, in Viking superstition, when 13 people are seated at a table the first to stand up will be the first to die.

The Friday the 13th superstition can also be linked back to Templars who were executed on Friday the 13th, 1307. The French King accused them of horrible crimes against morality and religion. However, the truth about the event remains gray.

In recent times, there are some events that took place on Friday the 13th that make the day seem even more unlucky: the Buckingham Palace bombing (1940), a cyclone that killed more than 300,000 people (1970), the disappearance of a Chilean Airforce plane (1972), and the crash of the Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy which killed 30 people (2012).

Even in the face of all this ‘evidence,’ not everybody believes in this date-related superstition. “It’s just another day,” said junior Evan Park.

As for the number 13 in general, many high-rise buildings in the United States do not have a 13th floor, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina. Before the introduction of steel into buildings, some believed that if a building had more than 13 floors it was at risk for collapse. Even today, the majority of hotels, hospitals, and airports avoid using the number 13 for gates and room numbers, and some airlines conveniently skip aisle 13 on their planes.

Despite all it’s history, a large number of people believe that the infamous Friday the 13th movie series created the superstition. In fact, an estimated 15% of the people surveyed at Champion believe the movies are responsible for Friday the 13th being unlucky.

“I think we should get Friday the 13th off of school in case something bad happens,” said sophomore MacKenzie Arendall.

Superstitions — prevalent through many different cultures — put people on edge because of their ominous message. This Friday the 13th, remember where exactly the mystery came from as you binge all those Jason Voorhees or Scream movies.

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