Triskaidekaphobic? Don't walk under a ladder this Friday

As the first of 2012's three Friday 13ths looms, The IoS sorts fact from fiction linked to the date

Some people will refuse to leave their homes; a few will not even venture out of bed. They are among the millions of people who believe Friday the 13th is unlucky. As many as one in four are believed to subscribe to the superstition, according to research.

If you are one of them, 2012 may not be your year. There will be three Friday the 13ths: this coming Friday, then two more in April and July. To mark the occasion, The Independent on Sunday has investigated the superstitions, events and strange happenings associated with the date. There are 13 of them, so look away now if you are triskaidekaphobic (afraid of the number 13).

1. The fear of Friday the 13th is known by one of two names: paraskevidekatriaphobia (stemming from the Greek words for Friday, 13 and fear), or friggatriskaidekaphobia (Friday derives its name from the Norse goddess Frigga and triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13).

2. Friday 13 August 2010 proved particularly unlucky for a 13-year-old boy who was struck by lightning at Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival in Suffolk. To add to the strangeness, the time when St John Ambulance volunteers treated him was 13.13. Luckily, he suffered only a minor burn.

3. When an aircraft crashed in the Andes on Friday 13 October 1972, survivors had to resort to cannibalism, eating the dead passengers to survive before being rescued more than two months later.

4. The heavy metal band Black Sabbath released their eponymous debut album on Friday 13 February 1970.

5. An article, "Is Friday 13th bad for your health?", published in the British Medical Journal in 1993 concluded the date was unlucky for some and that it might be safer to stay at home. The authors found "the risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52 per cent".

6. Research in 2003 suggested people who thought they were unlucky were more likely to believe in superstitions linked to bad luck which could, in turn, actually lead to bad luck. Psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, said Friday the 13th could make some people anxious and therefore more accident-prone.

7. Nevertheless, every Friday 13th, motorbike enthusiasts gather in Port Dover in Ontario, Canada, to celebrate. The tradition, said to have started in 1981 with about 25 friends, is now enjoyed by thousands of bikers and visitors.

8. A virus programmed to delete files struck IBM computers across Britain on Friday 13 January 1989.

9. Tube trains were cleared out of the path of a runaway engineering train, which went through six stations during a 13-minute journey on London's Underground, on Friday 13 August last year. The unmanned train, which had become uncoupled when being towed, ran for nearly four miles on the Northern Line.

10. American rapper Tupac Shakur died on Friday 13 September 1996 after being shot six days earlier.

11. Friday 13 May 1927 became known as Black Friday after the stock market in Berlin collapsed.

12. There are many proposed origins of the Friday the 13th superstition, including some linked to the Bible. One theory is based on an amalgamation of two ideas: 13 is unlucky because there were 13 diners at the Last Supper and Friday is unlucky because it is the day when Jesus was crucified.

13. More than 60 million people worldwide are reported to suffer from fear of Friday the 13th. Dr Donald Dossey, of the Stress Management Center/Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, estimates this costs as much as $900m to the US alone.

Additional research by Omar Shahid and Nicholas Butler

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

    £18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

    Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific