Superstition around Friday the 13th is likely to have its origins in the Middle Ages, where it may have developed from the story of The Last Supper. On Maundy Thursday, the 13th of Nisan in the Assyrian calendar and the day before Jesus’s crucifixion, there were 13 people in the Upper Room for the Last Supper. And then on Good Friday, Jesus died. There has been evidence over the years of both Friday and the number 13 being unlucky – but it wasn’t until 19th century that the two came together to be considered doubly unlucky. Friday the 13th had passed into common cultural conversation by the 19th century.
Another historical belief is that the fear of Friday 13th comes from when King Philip IV of France ordered hundreds of Templar Knights to be arrested on Friday 13th 1307. When they were caught, they were subsequently tortured and burned alive.
There have been a number of freakish events that have happened on Friday 13th. Take for example the 13-year-old boy called James Paget who was stuck by lightning at 13.13 on Friday the 13th back in 2010. And the fateful Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 that crashed on Friday 13th in 1972. Those who survived had to resort to cannibalism to survive. The British Medical Journal published a study in 2003 that concluded there was an increase in the number of accidents reported on Friday the 13ths in comparison to other random Fridays.
If you are one of the people who fear Friday 13th more than most, you may be somewhat comforted to find there’s a name for your phobia: the almost unpronounceable friggatriskaidekaphobia. It’s a more specific take on triskaidekaphobia, which is a fear of the number 13, thanks to the ‘frigga’ (Friday) prefix. The fear is also known as paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek Paraskevi, meaning Friday, and dekatris, meaning 13.