Why is Everyone so Scared of Friday the 13th?

A woman smiles while sitting on a stool and painting a black eye and teeth on a large calendar page for 'Friday The 13,' circa 1965
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Society has long considered the number 13 to be bad luck and when the date strikes on a Friday, you better watch out. While some people have a genuine fear of Friday the 13th as described by the terms paraskavedekatriaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia, others joke about the date especially when it falls on a night with a Full Moon. They say it could be bad luck or the creeps come out. But, why did the date become such a trigger for bad luck in the first place?

There is not really a specific time to pinpoint the explanation but for centuries, people have been associating the number and the date with superstition. Some believe that the date is unlucky due to biblical tradition, more specifically the Last Supper, as Judas, the 13th apostle was the one who betrayed Jesus. Some Christians believe that having 13 guests at a table is a bad omen based on the seating arrangements at the Last Supper and some say that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, bringing the day of the week into the superstition.

28 April 2022, Berlin: The number 13 hangs on the elevator on the 13th floor in a building. (Posed scene, wipe effect by zooming)

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It seems that as long as humans have used numbers, they have believed that 13 is not one to be trifled with. One New Yorker in the late 19th century hoped to change that. Captain William Fowler founded an exclusive society called the Thirteen Club, regularly joined by former U.S. Presidents. The group often dined on the 13th day of the month, would eat 13-course dinners, and of course, had 13 guests at the dinner table. In recent years, pop singer Taylor Swift believes 13 to be her lucky number and it has helped fans to not be so nervous around Friday, the 13th anymore.

Whether you believe Friday, the 13th to be a date to be feared or not, you have to admit that the movies surrounding the date are pretty scary. The horror franchise features 12 movies, a TV show, video games, books, and more, focusing on the fictional character Jason Voorhees. The original Friday the 13th film premiered in 1980 and was the highest-grossing horror film franchise in the world until Halloween took over in 2018.


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Whether you believe that Friday the 13th is unlucky or not, it is perfectly normal to be superstitious… or as Michael Scott on The Office says, “a little stitious.” The world is full of unknowns and some superstitions give us a false sense of control or simply give us stories to tell. Even so, some historians believe that the superstition of Friday the 13th may be fading out. If one day, no one remembers that the day was once deemed unlucky, chances are people in the future will be talking about new superstitions. Tell us, do you feel like Friday the 13th is unlucky, lucky, or just a date in time?

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