Friday the 13th: What True Stories Behind the Superstition?

FRIDAY the 13th.

Friday the 13th: What True Stories Behind the Superstition?

FRIDAY the 13th. Attacks, crashes, natural disasters... Several tragic events took place on Friday the 13th.

[Updated January 13, 2023 at 10:04 p.m.] Friday the 13th. If some try at each of these chances of the calendar to thwart superstition by playing Lotto or Euromillions, for others, it doesn't take more to cancel all their appointments for the day and stay at home. It must be said that in the past, particularly terrifying events have indeed occurred on a Friday the 13th. And unfortunately you don't have to go back in time very far to find the first example: the attacks of November 13th. This Friday the 13th, while the France-Germany friendly match was in full swing, Paris and its inner suburbs were the scene of bloody attacks. Kamikazes around the Stade de France, shootings targeting terraces in the heart of Paris and terrible killings in the Bataclan performance hall. Several commandos claiming to be from the Islamic State used automatic rifles and explosive belts, killing 130 people in total. And going back the centuries, we find other tragic Fridays the 13th...

The most famous Friday 13th crash was flight T-571, which crashed in the Andes in 1972. On Friday, October 13, the plane took off from Montevideo and was en route to Santiago, Chile, carrying the rugby team Old Christians. But the plane, which hits an Andean peak, crashes into the mountains at more than 12,000 feet. The survivors, who would not be found until 2 months later, had to resort to cannibalism to stay alive. A total of 29 of the 45 people on board were killed, including 5 passengers who died in an avalanche on October 30, 1972.

Going back the centuries, we find other tragic Fridays the 13th. In October 1307, all the bailiffs and provosts of France received a sealed ordinance from King Philippe le Bel, with an order not to open it until Friday the 13th. The fold asked them to arrest all the Templars of France. The same day, 2,000 Templars were arrested simultaneously by the seneschals (king's guards) and the bailiffs of the kingdom. They are interrogated under torture before being handed over to the Dominican inquisitors. Of the 140 Templars in Paris, 54 were burned after confessing to heretical crimes, such as spitting on the cross or practicing immodest kisses.

Did you also know that the superstition related to Friday the 13th originated from the superstition around the number 13? "Triskaïdékaphobe" is also the charming little name given to the phobia of the number 13. Consequences: certain practices such as marriages, births or navigation are avoided in the West on the 13th of the month. In many cities, there are no dwellings bearing the number 13. Large buildings also avoid naming the 13th floor (which becomes 12 bis or 14 a) and some hotels do not have a 13 room to avoid accommodating a superstitious guest. Writer Stephen King has also confessed to this phobia which prevents him from reading pages 13 of the books.

But Friday the 13th isn't a bad day for everyone. Thus, every Friday the 13th, La Française des Jeux registers 3 times more players. Since 1991, it has organized a campaign called "Operation V13"; Friday becomes “Lucky Day” and players are likely to win extraordinary jackpots. retraces for you in this dossier the origins of a double-faced belief...

As Friday 13 January approached, the site had fun probing the superstitions of Europeans. Result: they were 15% to fear this particular day on the Old Continent. Almost as much as those who dreaded "breaking a mirror" (21%), "passing under a ladder" (20%) or "opening an umbrella indoors" (17%). And more than the fearful of the salt shaker, since Europeans are still 15% to be superstitious about spilling salt. However, the French remain a little less superstitious than the European average, established at 55%: 52% of us attach importance to superstitions, against 60% for the Spaniards or 58% for the Italians. .

The origins of this phobia are to be found mainly in the Bible: during the Last Supper, the last meal taken together before the arrest and crucifixion of Christ, Jesus and his apostles are 13. But why on Friday? It is also the Catholic religion that came to attach the number 13 to it, in reference to Good Friday, the day of the Stations of the Cross and of Penance. At the same time, some legends imply that Eve crunched the famous apple from the Garden of Eden on a Friday...

This sometimes ridiculed superstition has its origins in the Bible: according to the set of texts considered sacred by believers, Christ was crucified on Good Friday, after a last meal, the Last Supper, taken at 13 around the table with his apostles... including the traitor Judas. In Greco-Roman and Nordic mythologies, the number 13 was also already frowned upon, but it is Catholic tradition that associated the number 13 with Good Friday, the day of penance and the Stations of the Cross. Some legends even suggest that Eve bit into the apple from the Garden of Eden on a Friday...

Nothing special has happened on Friday the 13th in the past. The association that connects the day of Friday, the number 13 and misfortune has its source in the Bible. According to the New Testament, during the Last Supper (Christ's last meal), 13 participants sat around the table: Jesus Christ and his 12 apostles. The Gospel of Matthew quotes all those present: "Simon, called Peter, and Andrew, his brother; James, son of Zebedee, and John, his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew, the publican; James, son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Zealot (or the Cananite), and Judas the Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus". Judas is often presented as the 13th guest, the one who turned everything upside down. Judas the traitor and Friday the 13th are therefore inseparable. The fear of Friday the 13th is also based on the fact that Christ was crucified on a Friday, which will become "Good Friday" during Easter week.

The fear of Friday the 13th is also said to have its origins in ancient Norse myths. As with the episode of the death of the God Balder. Odin, god of warriors, had once, according to legend, gathered eleven of his god friends for a dinner party at his home in Valhalla. Loki, god of war and evil, annoyed at not being part of the party, decided to invite himself anyway. Only, this thirteenth surprise guest was not welcome. Odin's son, the handsome Balder, god of love and light, tried to chase the intruder away. A battle broke out between the two gods who had always hated each other. Loki, jealous and malevolent god, fired a poisoned arrow at him in the heart, killing Balder the "beloved". Since this legend, in Scandinavian countries, the number 13 is considered cursed and being 13 at the table would bring bad luck.

Frigga, or the demonization of pagan beliefs, is another precursor to the fear of Friday the 13th. In Norse mythology, Frigga (or Freya) was the queen of the gods, goddess of love and fertility. She was celebrated by her worshipers on Fridays. The word "friday", Friday in English, would also come from this celebration and would mean "Freya's day". But in the 10th and 11th centuries, the northern countries are gradually converted to Christianity. We then start to tell that Frigga is actually a witch and that she has been banished to the top of a mountain. In revenge, she would invite, every Friday, the devil and 11 witches to curse men and cast bad spells on them.

Is 13 a destroyer of harmony? The Greeks and Romans also give this number a negative connotation in the Greco-Roman mythologies of Friday the 13th. These two mythologies, which have great similarities, both associate the number 12 with regularity and perfection. Thus, there are 12 Olympian gods, 12 constellations, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 hours of day and night. The number 13, which involves adding one unit to the perfect 12, breaks this regular cycle and introduces disorder. Destroying harmony, it is synonymous with misfortune. As for Friday, it is associated with unfortunate events since it is on this day, in ancient Rome, that the executions of those sentenced to death generally take place.