National Geographic Daily News
iPad screen with Friday the 13 calendar

Some people saw this date on the calendar—and were convinced it was going to be a bad day.


Tanya Basu

National Geographic

Published December 13, 2013

It's Friday the 13th. But did you notice?

In the bustle of the holidays, many people aren't noticing that today is that most feared date on the calendar. (See "Why Does Friday the 13th Scare Us So Much?")

The date, which occurs when the first day of the month lands on a Sunday, has long provoked negative feelings ranging from distaste to outright fear for those afraid of the number 13.

In fact, some suffer from fear of the day itself: paraskevidekatriaphobia.

Blame the Friday the 13th horror franchise, the Bible's Judas (the 13th guest at the Last Supper), or just having a particularly bad day previously on the date.

Friday the 13th, though, is just another date for most people, and would have been for all of us if we weren't taught to fear it, according to Stuart Vyse, a professor of psychology at Connecticut College in New London and author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition.

"If nobody bothered to teach us about these negative taboo superstitions like Friday the 13th, we might in fact all be better off," he said in a previous interview with National Geographic.

Perhaps the good tidings of a holiday season makes for a less feared Friday the 13th. And for one lucky soul, this Friday the 13th might be the luckiest day.

You can breathe a sigh of relief, though: The next time you have to deal with this unlucky day is six months hence, on June 13, 2014.

Follow Tanya Basu on Twitter.

Brian Leehan
Brian Leehan

I heard/read somewhere that the "unlucky" aspect of Friday the 13th was associated with the day/date that King Philip V of France had the Knights Templar order raided. The Templars were extremely wealthy and powerful, and therefore a threat (and Philip owed them a LOT of money, apparently). Standard story for that period: torture the knights into false confessions, burn them at the stake, have the Pope disband the order, confiscate their fortune, etc. ... Certainly not a lucky day/date for Templars, in any case.

Michael Westley
Michael Westley

What a wonderful window to the realities and the mysteries of our beautiful World this website, NatGeo, is!   As for Friday the is what you make it in your mind.

Thanks for a new interest for an old man without a sea.


Robert Langdale
Robert Langdale

Wow, great journalism, not a word as to why we observe this an unlucky day.

Joy Saldanha
Joy Saldanha

Leaving aside the dreaded Friday the 13th stuff. Me thinks its 9 lives that they have!!!!!!!  J.E.S.

Bra Sidas
Bra Sidas

It doesn't really mean a thing.  In the Hispanic world the bad day is Martes 13th - Tuesday the 13th.  (And cats have 7 not 9 lives!)

Julia Bondanella
Julia Bondanella

I got married on a Friday 13...   way over 30 years now.

brian january
brian january

The concept of bad luck or evil associated with the number 13 can be ultimately traced back to the Upper Paleolithic and the worship of the lunar Mother Goddess whose sacred number was 13 (the number of annual lunations). When the paternal sun god religions supplanted her worship, this number was vilified (demon est deus inversus) and the early Christian church did its best to stamp out her worship (but didn't quite succeed).

Brian January

Robert McManus
Robert McManus

Frequently in Buddhism one will see 13 story pagodas.  It's a good luck number.

Roger Bird
Roger Bird

The article didn't explain squat historically speaking.  Friday the 13th was the day that the Knights Templar were annihilated by a coordinated (by the French King Phillip IV) attack all over Europe in 1307.  That is when the idiotic superstition got started.

anne boad
anne boad

I wish the article spoke about origins, as well as modern superstition. As the great poet and mythographer Robert Graves pointed out, when a culture is supplanted by another, the former gods are demoted, becoming demons, imps, gnomes etc, e.g. Medusa, leprechauns. Similarly, when the 13 month lunar calendar of the old pan-European goddess culture Graves describes in The White Goddess, was supplanted by expanding patriarchal cultures with a solar calends,13 became a bad number.

Brandon Harris
Brandon Harris

@Brian Leehan a few of the the Templars treasures were the bones of   Mary Magdalene, and historic documentation proving Jesus Christ mortal and therefore pissing the Catholic Church off. So now they hunt for the people who hold these treasures witch is The Priory Of Sion who are a secret society supposingly hiding and protecting the artifacts. All of this is mentioned in Dan Brown's novel The Davinci Code. You should read it, if you haven't.  

Ian Douglas
Ian Douglas

@Roger Bird It's painfully obvious they posted this without any research at all...  I'm surprised nobody mentioned the papal conspiracy with Roi Phillipe IV to execute this massacre...

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