News / Updates / Events — 16 July 2012

The number 13 by itself and in particular in connection with a Friday conjures up dread among many people (in particular for the Scottish who remember the Massacre of Glencoe), others simply call it superstition. This article published in LifeScience sheds some light, and so does Osho a little further down the line.

Does Friday the 13th freak you out? If so, hold on to your rabbit’s foot extra tight, because there are three of these supposedly unlucky dates in 2012, though perhaps luckily, last Friday (July 13) was the last of them. Though, there’s always some fear to be had next year, 2013.


Credit: Anneka, Shutterstock

Read on for 13 strange facts about this day of superstition.

1. This year is a special one for Friday the 13ths: There were three of them: Jan. 13, April 13 and July 13. The freaky thing? The dates fall exactly 13 weeks apart. That hasn’t happened since 1984.

2. If that scares you, you may have paraskavedekatriaphobia (also known as friggatriskaidekaphobia). Those are the scientific terms for fear of Friday the 13th. Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13.

3. It’s not clear when or why Friday the 13th became associated with bad luck. The association may be biblical, given that the 13th guest at the Last Supper betrayed Jesus. His crucifixion was the next day, apparently a Friday. Or maybe 13 suffers from coming after the more-pleasing number 12, which gets to number the months, the days of Christmas and even the eggs in a dozen. (There are also 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel and 12 apostles of Jesus.)

4. Whatever the reason, fear of 13 has spread far and wide: Hotels and hospitals often skip the 13th floor, and even airports quietly omit gate 13 sometimes.

5. The next year in which we’ll have three Friday the 13ths is 2015. They’ll fall in February, March and November.

6. If you think your Friday the 13th  is likely to be bad, be glad you aren’t a 14th-century Knight Templar. On Oct. 13, 1307, officers of King Philip IV of France raided the homes of thousands of these Crusades warriors, imprisoning them on charges of illegal activities. Though the charges weren’t proven, more than a hundred died of terrible torture, according to Tales of the Knights Templar (Warner Books, 1995).

7. Fittingly, director of psychological thrillers Alfred Hitchcock was born on the 13th – Friday, Aug. 13, 1999, would have been his 100th birthday. Perhaps aptly titled Number 13, a film that was supposed to be Hitchcock’s directorial debut never made it past the first few scenes and was shut down due to financial problems. He allegedly said the film wasn’t very interesting. (Meanwhile, Fidel Castro was born on Friday the 13th, in August 1926.)

8. Why does the Friday the 13th superstition stick so firmly in our minds? According to Thomas Gilovich, who chairs the department of psychology at Cornell University, our brains are almost too good at making associations.
“If anything bad happens to you on Friday the 13th, the two will be forever associated in your mind, and all those uneventful days in which the 13th fell on a Friday will be ignored,” Gilovich said in a statement.

9. For pagans, 13 is actually a lucky number. It corresponds with the number of full moons in a year.

10. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is said to have avoided travel on the 13th day of any month, and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.

11. Mark Twain once was the 13th guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. “It was bad luck,” Twain later told the friend. “They only had food for 12.” Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest.

12. Stock broker and author Thomas W. Lawson, in his 1907 novel “Friday the Thirteenth,” wrote of a stockbroker’s attempts to take down Wall Street on the unluckiest day of the month. Reportedly, stock brokers after this were as unlikely to buy or sell stocks on this unlucky day as they were to walk under a ladder, according to accounts of a 1925 New York Times article.

13. This fear of Friday the 13th can be serious business, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C., which, among other things, offers therapy to help people overcome their fear of the freaky Friday. Their estimates suggest hundreds of millions of dollars, up to $900 million are lost due to people’s fear of flying or doing the business as usual that day, though that number isn’t backed up with other estimates.

Osho says,

“Remember this, this is what madness is: first you decide and then you find proofs. And you will always find them. Life is vast. Once you decide – and this is the path of madness, that first you decide then you start finding proofs. Those proofs are not real proofs, those are pseudo-proofs. They are more or less rationalizations. But you have already decided the case.

Proofs should be first, and then the decision. But people decide first, then they always find. Remember, whatsoever you decide, you will find. Nobody can prevent you from finding it. If you decide there is a God you will find one. If you decide there is no God you will find that there is no God. If you decide that the number thirteen is a bad omen, it is evil, you will find proofs every day that number thirteen has something evil in it. On the thirteenth day of the month something will go wrong. It goes wrong every day, but then you don’t take notice of it. But on the thirteenth, you take notice. In America, in many hotels they don’t have a thirteenth floor because nobody wants to stay on the thirteenth floor. So after the twelfth floor comes the fourteenth. The thirteenth never comes.

I was reading one article: A man has found thousands of things to prove that the number thirteen belongs to the devil. He has accumulated thousands of facts: on the thirteenth of each month – how many murders are committed in the world, how many robberies, how many people commit suicide, how many auto accidents, how many people become mad on that date, the thirteenth. He has accumulated thousands of facts. Somebody sent me the article – he was also impressed. One has to be impressed; the man has forced so many facts to support the idea.

I wrote to the man who had sent me the article, “You try to find the same about the number twelve, and you will find the same number of murders, robberies, heart attacks, suicides, people going mad. Any number will do. You just decide first on the number, and then you go on looking in life and you will find…. If you decide that number thirteen is a good number, then you will find some other facts: how many people get married, how many children are born, how many people fall in love.”

On the date of the thirteenth, people get married, people get divorced also. It depends on you, which you choose. People are born and people die also. In reality every day is the same. Reality does not favor. But your mind… if it starts working, you will find….”

Osho, Just Like That, Ch 5