Friday the 13th: Where Does the Superstition Come From?

© Catalina Zaharescu Tiensuu |

Friday the 13th: Where Does the Superstition Come From?

Triskaidekaphobia is real
Friday the 13th: Where Does the Superstition Come From?

© Catalina Zaharescu Tiensuu |

Do you avoid or have a fear of certain cat breeds with black fur? Are you always cautious to not step on a crack in the sidewalk? Does your heart rate elevate when someone opens an umbrella indoors? These are pretty common superstitions that some people believe will bring them bad luck or misfortune. But you can’t talk about bad luck without talking about the so-called unluckiest day of the year: Friday the 13th.

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The unluckiness of Friday the 13th has been highlighted in popular movies, stories and more, but some tie the fear of the day back to Christianity.

“In the case of Friday the 13th, this taboo derives from the Christian story of the Last Supper,” said Phillips Stevens Jr., an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Buffalo. Stevens is an expert on superstitions and has been published widely in the area of belief systems and more.

“Whether or not you are Christian, the taboo and the avoidance has spread into non-Christian areas,” Stevens said. He explained that the story of the Last Supper takes place on a Thursday night, with 13 people — Jesus and his 12 apostles —gathering for Passover. Judas, one of the apostles, betrays Jesus and that same night, Jesus is arrested and flogged. He was then crucified the next day—Friday.

“The number 13 became dangerous to many people,” Stevens said.

This has developed in phobias known as friggatriskaidekaphobia, which is the fear of Friday the 13th, or triskaidekaphobia, which means the fear of the number 13. So spending the night in a haunted hotel on Friday the 13th, for example, would be a nightmare for anyone dealing with these phobias.

“Superstitions involve avoiding making contact with potentially dangerous things and avoiding anything that resembles this particularly dangerous thing,” Stevens said.


But if you don’t believe in superstitions or fear the 13th, maybe you can test your bravery by taking the day to visit one of the most chilling abandoned places in America.