Search icon


13th Jul 2018

Friday the 13th is here and naturally enough, we are freaking out

Anna Daly

Friday the 13th

Absolutely bricking it.

Not really, but some people are. Did you know that there’s an actual word for the fear of Friday the 13th? In fact, there are two words. You ready for them? They are paraskevidekatriaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia. Try saying those five times fast.

For years, Friday the 13th has played into many people’s superstitions for years. It’s actually estimated that the US has a loss of around $800 million in business every Friday the 13th. That’s some expensive superstition.

We wouldn’t exactly call ourselves superstitious. Sure, we would probably go slightly out of our way not to walk under ladders (but that’s just more like common sense?) and we might give a quick tap on wood to avoid jinxing something, but calling ourselves superstitious is such a commitment.

We don’t think we’ve ever denied ourselves that extra treat just because it’s an unlucky day. If anything, we’ll treat ourselves a bit extra. Any excuse, right?

That being said, our treats don’t generally include investments of thousands of euro. And we can’t say that we remember ever booking a flight on a Friday the 13th. But we think we would… Or would we?

Even though we don’t actually think anything bad is going to happen, we can’t help but take note of the date. And even though creepy things happen every day of the week and month, we still feel a bit freaked out when we hear stories of things happening on this supposedly unlucky day.

For example, did you hear about that kid who was 13 who got struck by lightning on Friday the 13th in 2010? The time he got hit? Thirteen minutes past one. So, in other words, 13:13.

True story.

Creepy, right? Luckily, he was fine and only received minor burns but that is some eerie coincidence. And there are plenty of other incidents that happened on Friday the 13th that didn’t have a happy ending.

For example, the Costa Concordia crashed into rocks and capsized on Friday the 13th in 2012 while sailing off the coast of Tuscany.

Most of the passengers on the ship were rescued but 32 people ended up losing their lives and the captain was subsequently sent to prison for 16 years for endangering the lives of his passengers and abandoning his ship.

Another tragic occurrence that took place on Friday the 13th was the infamous murder of Catherine “Kitty” Genovese.

This killing, which took place in March 1964, caused huge public outcry and even led to the study of a phenomenon known as the “bystander effect”.

The public outcry was sparked mostly by a New York Times article that claimed 37 people had witnessed or heard the murder and none of them called the police. While it seems that the reports in the article were exaggerated, the psychological theory is just as relevant to this day and Kitty’s murder is frequently brought up as a reference for it.

A documentary called The Witness follows Kitty’s brother in his attempt to uncover what really happened that night, whether there was any truth behind The New York Times article, and if things have changed at all since that night.

The documentary is on Netflix and we just watched it the other day. It’s really good. It’s sad and even a bit disheartening at points, but a good watch.

So there really is no doubt that bad things happen on Friday the 13th but do they happen because it is Friday the 13th or would they happen anyway and we only notice them because of the day?

If the 13-year-old had been struck by lightning a year later at 14:14 on Friday the 14th, no one would have noticed. Or if they had, they wouldn’t have thought it signified anything.

The irony is that research shows that there are fewer traffic accidents, fewer fires, and fewer robberies on Friday the 13th. So actually, overall, it is a safer day than most.

Maybe we have overly suspicious people to blame for that for being extra careful on that day. If so, thank you, overly suspicious people.

Or, who knows? Maybe Friday the 13th is really a lucky day that just gets a bad rep.

Considering our servers decided to have a bit of a crash today, we’re unconvinced of this last one. But we still won’t be diagnosing ourselves with paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia. Not yet anyway.