Why is Friday the 13th unlucky?

Yes, it is Friday the 13th.

And, as WALB Ch. 10 News in Albany, Ga., insightfully informs us, “Friday the 13th occurs when the thirteenth day of a month falls on a Friday.”


In any case, we all know that this date is considered to be “unlucky.” But exactly why is that the case? Curious about the reason, I took a quick trip around the Web this morning to see what I could find. And what I pulled together was a short list of theories (and some facts).

Call ’em the Lucky Seven …

1. It’s a curious quirk of the Gregorian calendar that the 13th of the month is more likely to fall on a Friday than any other day of the week.

2. In fact, in any 400-year period, there are 685 Monday the 13ths, 685 Tuesdays, 687 Wednesdays, 684 Thursdays, 688 Fridays, 684 Saturdays and 687 Sundays.

3. Friday the 13th happens at least once a year, at most three times, due to the modern calendar. There’s only one this year (today) and only one next year (May 13, 2011), but, look out, in 2012 there are three (January, April and July). And, of course, there’s that pesky Friday the 21st in December (12-21-12) when the world is supposed to end.

4. Per the Huffington Post, this is the explanation for the Friday 13th mystique: “When you combine an historically unlucky day (Friday) with an unlucky number (13), all sorts of weirdness is bound to ensue. Hence the obsession with Friday the 13th.”

Since when is Friday an “historically unlucky day”?

Even sillier, the same writer informs us of this: “Historically, some very unlucky events were said to have occurred on the day. French King Philip IV rounded up hundreds of monks and tortured them for admitting to heresy on Friday, October 13, 1307. Some say Jesus Christ was crucified on Friday the 13th. More recently, on Friday, March 13, 1992, an earthquake in Turkey killed nearly 2,000 and left 50,000 homeless.”

Yeah, and 9/11 happened on a Tuesday the 11th. The Columbine massacre was on a Tuesday the 20th. The Great Chicago Fire started on a Sunday the 8th.

In the past 700 years, I’m pretty sure that every date on the calendar has had its fair share of “unlucky” events. So, c’mon HuffPo, get your act together. Not really supporting your argument there.

But I digress …

5. According to National Geographic, Friday the 13th is rooted in a Norse myth. 12 Gods sat down for dinner, when a 13th uninvited guest, Loki arrived. Loki, the god of mischief, convinced Holder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder, the beautiful god of joy and gladness.

6. Another theory about Friday the 13th superstition is that 13 is unlucky because it follows 12. 12 is considered by many to be a complete number. 12 months in a year, 12 zodiac signs, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus.

7. And, finally, according to some folklorists, there is no written evidence for a “Friday the 13th” superstition before the 19th century. The earliest known documented reference in English occurs in an 1869 biography of Italian composer Gioachino Rossini.

So, really, it looks like no one knows exactly why Friday the 13th is considered unlucky, only that it is.

But, just to be safe, don’t break any mirrors.