Why is Friday 13th synonymous with horror, pranks, and bad luck? Here are some facts surrounding this notorious day:
Pop culture made Friday the 13th widespread
It’s not surprising that Friday the 13th wouldn’t be as famous as it is today without the help of pop culture. The superstition was brought to light in Thomas W. Lawson’s novel Friday, the Thirteenth (1907), but it was the iconic horror franchise Friday the 13th – originally titled A Long Night at Camp Blood – that really seared the idea into our collective minds since the 1980s.
What started as a standalone movie has spawned into a franchise with 11 movies and a reboot, making Jason Voorhees – the guy in the hockey mask – an icon of Friday the 13th.
It’s all about pranks
For some inexplicable reason, this freaky day has turned into a day for pranks. Google ‘Friday the 13th pranks’ and you’ll find a boatload of results – there are videos of real life pranks, pranks gone wrong, hilarious pranks, as well as tips on how to prank people (including children!).
The most popular prank involves – you guessed it – dressing up as Jason Voorhees and basically scaring people out of their wits by jumping out of nowhere. Pranksters will often dress in the iconic hockey mask and carry around some sort of weapon which can be a crowbar, an axe, or the classic: a chainsaw. While they’re supposed to be scary, the results of these pranks are hilarious.
Other horror icons also take part in this prank – like Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street), Ghostface (Scream), and Michael Myers (Halloween). To be fair, the idea of a pontianak is scarier for us, but hey, she isn’t associated with bad luck on Friday the 13th – she’s bad luck all year round.
Jason Voorhees cameos
As a horror icon, Jason appears in plenty of other movies, as well as TV shows and even video games. He appeared in The Simpsons and South Park as a cameo, and he’s also a downloadable, playable character in games like Mortal Kombat X, Bloody Rage, and Terrordrome.
There’s a word for ‘fear of Friday the 13th’
There’s actually two: ‘friggatriskaidekaphobia’ and ‘paraskevidekatriaphobia’. Now you know how people hated the day.
‘Friggatriskaidekaphobia’ combines Frigg (Norse goddess of wisdom after whom Friday is named), triskaideka (Greek for 13), and phobia. ‘Paraskevidekatriaphobia’ is more descriptive: it’s simply paraskeví (Greek for Friday) and dekatria (13).
Actually people also really fear the number ’13’ in general. The fear of number 13 is ‘triskaidekaphobia’ – this is why many high-rise buildings, hotels, and hospitals skip the 13th floor, and many airports do not have Gate 13. It’s like the number 4 for the superstitious Chinese.
It’s about western numerology
People have a disdain for 13 because it’s positioned after 12 – considered a “complete” number by numerologists. Why 12? There are there are 12 months, 12 zodiac signs, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 apostles of Jesus, and more. Speaking of Biblical, Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and there were 13 guests at the Last Supper the night before his crucifixion. Plus, you can only divide 13 with one and 13.