Friday the 13th is back, and no, we’re not confirming a reboot of the popular horror franchise.
With October being the month of scary movie marathons, haunted hayrides, and Halloween, the timing of the decidedly unlucky day makes this Friday seem especially eerie.
But why do so many of us dread, if not actively fear, this particular day of the year? Why does the number 13 feel like a harbinger of doom and despair?
The exact origins of the superstition are unknown, but historians most commonly believe it stems from Christianity. In the Bible, there were 13 apostles at the Last Supper; the thirteenth, Judas, betrayed Jesus in an act that led to his crucifixion the following day, Good Friday. Some scholars go so far as to propose that other catastrophic Biblical events – Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, the Great Flood – also occurred on a Friday the 13th.
Still others theorize that the superstition originated on Friday, October 13, 1307 when King Philip IV arrested hundreds of members of the Knights Templar. Or they point to The Canterbury Tales, where author Geoffrey Chaucer proclaims Friday an unlucky day for starting new ventures.
Thirteen is also thought to be an unlucky number because it comes right after 12. According to National Geographic, numerologists view 12 as complete, with 12 months in a year, 12 hours on a clock, and 12 zodiac signs. Thirteen is subsequently seen as the odd number out.
Dr. Simon Bronner, professor of American studies and folklore at Pennsylvania State University, notes that some countries believe 13 is a lucky number and that our fear of Friday the 13th is “a constructed belief.” Good fortune can actually be had on this conceptually unlucky day. Because people tend to avoid getting married and traveling then, research shows that it is actually cheaper to book wedding venues and plane tickets for this date.
So take advantage of other people’s fear and buy yourself a plane ticket for Friday, April 13, 2018. You’ll get extra brave points if it’s for a destination wedding.