Friday 13 January 2012

Triskaidekaphobia and Paraskavedekatriaphobia or Friggatriskaidekaphobia

Is fear of the number 13 more troubling than fear of Friday 13th? After all there is a 13 in every month.

In any year there will be at least one Friday 13th but never more than three. If the month starts on a Sunday the thirteenth day will be a Friday. This year’s Friday 13ths fall in January, April and July.

However, there is little evidence that Friday 13th was considered unlucky before the 19th century. The superstition seems to be a combination of two older ones, namely Friday is an unlucky day and 13 is an unlucky number. Friday was the day for executions in ancient Rome. Christ was crucified on a Friday. In Britain hangings were carried out on Fridays.

On Friday 13th October, 1066, William of Normandy demanded that King Harold II relinquish his throne.  Harold refused and the Battle of Hastings took place the next day, Harold’s troops falling to William the Conqueror’s army. Life for the Anglo-Saxons was never the same again!

In recent times, stock market crashes have occurred on Fridays, spawning the phrase ‘Black Friday.’

The ancient Egyptians believed that people passed through twelve stages of life on earth and the thirteenth stage was the happy afterlife. When this belief was adopted by other cultures the association with happiness after death was lost and thirteen related simply to bad luck or death.

Witches’ covens are thought to have thirteen members and thirteen guests at a table presages disaster. In an Old Norse myth the god Odin invited eleven of the gods to a banquet. He did not invite the mischievous Loki to the feast but he heard about it and attended anyway. Loki caused an argument which resulted in the death of one of the gods.

Jesus sat down to the Last Supper with his twelve disciples. Judas Iscariot was one of the party of thirteen. He betrayed his master and killed himself.

Some hosts will seat a teddy bear or doll at a table where only thirteen people will gather. Towns often omit thirteen when numbering their streets, as do some hotels and airlines. Many high-rise blocks do not have a thirteenth floor. Italy’s national lottery doesn’t have a number thirteen.

So perhaps Friggatriskaidekaphobia is greater – it seems that the combination of an unlucky day with an unlucky number is just too terrifying to ignore.
However, in Spanish-speaking countries and in Greece it is Tuesday 13th that is considered unlucky.


  1. It was only yesterday when hubby pointed out that today was Friday 13th did I realise. Is it just until noon that misfortunes can happen? In which case I am OK - however it is only 4.30pm so if not I had better be on my guard!

  2. Why do people keep saying Happy Friday the 13th? It is obviously not meant to be a happy day...

  3. Every hotel I've stayed in in North America does not have a 13th floor. I'm not superstitious at all, but the facts are interesting.

  4. Interesting. I didn't even think about today being Friday 13th. Luckily for me, I'm not too worried about it!

  5. I try to think of it as lucky so it becomes self fulfilling. Also I was just so pleased it was Friday today that I didn't care!

  6. I love those big words, Janice. Aren't they great?
    My parents had a friend who refused to go to work on Friday the 13th. He just stayed home and wouldn't go out. I don't know how he ever kept a job, but if it only happened three times a year, maybe he got away with calling in sick.
    I didn't realize today was Friday the 13th until I read this post. I don't get out much, anyway, unless we're going to the other side of the planet. Shouldn't THAT be causing some kind of psychosis? LOL

  7. The 13th has actually been a good luck number in my family. Surprising amount of people have been born on the 18th in our family. It's very interesting to learn the history behind the superstition.

  8. An interesting bit of history! I remember for a time something GOOD always seemed to happen to me on Friday the 13th's; so I used to welcome them.

  9. I'm so glad I'm not superstitious about the number 13. I'm sure I have tons of other crazy ideas...but not this one. There are too many 13s to worry about! :))

  10. I didn't know all that, thanks
    I like the number 13 and have always thought Friday the 13th was funny

  11. Hi Janice .. for me it was lucky - always is .. but for some it wasn't and isn't ...

    The history behind the 13th is fascinating .. we'd think it'd go further back ..

    Cheers Hilary


Thank you for visiting. I love to read your comments and really appreciate you taking the time to respond to posts.

I will always try to repay your visit whenever possible.