What's the deal with "Friday the 13th" (not the movie)

Why is it that when (supposedly) the thirteenth day of the month is a Friday, bad luck follows? What’s the origin of this superstition?

Everything you ever wanted to know… Friday the 13th - Wikipedia

According to the Wiki article


A previous SDMB thread about this, which will add a bit to the discussion.

Snopes article.

The fact that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were born on Friday the 13th should pretty much end the discussion.

[HomerSimpsonvoice]Wikipedia! Is there anything it DOESN’T know?[/HSvoice]

I once read a theory that Columbus did not spot America on October 12, but on a Friday, October 13. He therefore backdated the day in his journal so the find wouldn’t be considered unlucky.

There are many things wrong with this theory, the top one being that the second Friday in October in 1492 was the 12th, not the 13th.

Just goes to show the lengths to which superstititious mania will drive people.

Ah, but so was Black Sabbath. So it all evens out. :wink:

And: Why is the number 13 considered unlucky?

You know, I have to take issue with Wikipedia’s claim that this is the earliest reference to a superstitious view of Friday the 13th. (Rossini, by the way, died in 1868.) There are certainly examples in French that predate this 1869 sighting (what follows, for example, are retrievable via Google Books).

Baudelaire’s “L’Examen de minuit” (1863) contains this,

Chivot and Duru, playwrights of “Bloqué!; Vaudeville en un Acte” (1859), have César exclaiming,

Lettres du Maréchal de Saint-Arnaud by Arnaud-Jacques Leroy de Saint-Arnaud (1855) contains the recognition that for the superstitious a Friday the 13th constitutes a double-whammy:

Similarly, Magasin Théatral, a collection published in 1834 reproducing plays then running in Paris, contained “Les Finesses de Gribouille,” in which a character states,

I think it’s likely we could also find examples in Spanish and Italian writings from the same period. Which is not to say that proves that a distrust of Friday the 13th was particularly prevalent in the first half of the 19th century, but only that it did exist on the continent, at least in popular works, and was probably more commonplace in Catholic countries on the continent than in English-speaking states elsewhere.

I believe other instances probably are to be found in still earlier French writings, especially in private documents, such as letters and diary entries. (Obviously, these written examples would’ve been products of those who had reason to keep track of dates or at least be aware of dates, things not particularly important to those more concerned with the actual day of the week than the date of the day.)

– Tammi Terrell