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The History of Friday the 13th

The History of Friday the 13th

At AMASS, we’re not superstitious – you can regularly find members of our team strolling under ladders and petting stray black cats. But we do have a proclivity for indulging in all things occult, and that means when Friday the 13th rolls around, we’re on high alert. But where do superstitions around the day come from, and are we right to be weary?

In Western cultures, the number 12 is often a marker that something is whole. There are 12 months, 12 zodiac signs, 12 days of Christmas. But continue counting and the number that follows–the unlucky number 13–is tied up in all kinds of negative associations.

That goes back to 1307, when on October, Friday the 13th King Phillip IV of France arrested the Knights Templar, a military group formed to protect the Holy Land. Hundreds of Templars were wrongfully imprisoned and later executed, all because the King wanted access to their financial resources. And the blame was pushed onto unlucky number 13, a pattern that would follow for the next millennia.

That’s because bad things did continue to happen on Friday the 13th. A lot of them, actually. There was the bombing of Buckingham Palace, a deadly cyclone in Bangladesh, the death of Tupac. And that’s just to name a few tragedies that just so happened to take place on Friday the 13th.

And so, the 13th floor was eradicated from hotel elevators, an empty space between 12 and 14 resting ominously. Having 13 guests at a table became a bad omen, and so an extra person was tacked onto the dinner party to dissolve any fears of bad luck. In our own ways, we found a way to avoid the number 13 entirely. It’s why every Friday the 13th there’s a dip in air travel, millions of dollars lost in business across industries as people hide out in their homes until the 14th rolls around.

The same isn’t true though across other cultures and countries. In Greece and several Spanish-speaking countries, for instance, it’s Tuesday the 13th, the day Constantinople fell, that incites panic. The fact that Tuesday is the third day of the week only adds fuel to the fire, as bad luck is said “to come in threes.” Meanwhile, in Italy, Friday the 17th is the day of bad luck, with many Italians considering the number 13 to actually be particularly lucky.

All that to say, the days we consider ‘unlucky’ or ‘lucky’ have little to do with cold hard facts and more to do with our own cultural and historical associations with the day. So, in the spirit of kicking superstition, cheers to staying safe and celebrating with a glass of AMASS come Saturday.


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