Friday the 13th: Is it Really Scary or Pure Superstition

Friday the 13th has a long history of being a spooky day.

Friday the 13th traditionally arrives comes once or twice a year, and it's back again. This year, we first saw one in January, and it's now back again for October. For many, Friday the 13th is just a normal day like any other, but it's undeniable that some people think of it as an unofficial holiday. 

This is mostly due to the superstition surrounding Friday the 13th, which is mostly harmless, but there are some statistics that have raised eyebrows over the years. According to My Journal Courier, the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute — which is based in North Carolina — has reported that the number of Americans who are afraid of Friday the 13th is from anywhere between 17 million to 21 million. The institute notes that businesses lose an estimated $800 million to $900 million in revenue on Friday the 13th, due to superstitious patrons.

Possibly the biggest part of why people are so afraid of Friday the 13th has more to do with the number 13 than the day itself. Medically known as triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13 has existed for centuries and is ingrained into modern culture. Many hotels leave it off the end of room numbers, and it is said that the number of high-rise residential buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan to contain a 13th floor is less than 5 percent. Relatedly, Otis and Kone — two of the world's leading manufacturers of elevators — offer plans that leave off the number 13 from their floor buttons.

It is even reported that many airlines leave the number 13 out whenever possible, as it can potentially make superstitious flyers feel uncomfortable. Interestingly, the fear of Friday the 13th also has a more scientific name. It is called friggatriskaidekaphobia, and it has roots in Norse mythology related to the goddess Frigga. There are some, however, who point to the Christian Bible as a possible explanation for the fear of the day. Those who credit it cite two factors: Judas being the 13th guest at the Last Supper of Jesus, and the religious figure then being crucified to death on a Friday.

Still, there are others who claim that the superstition of the day comes from the novel Friday the 13th, which was published in 1907 by a stockbroker named Thomas Lawson. The book even begins with those three words, "Friday the 13th." Whatever the true root cause, there is no denying that the term itself has become a staple of pop culture.

Notably, the Friday the 13th film franchise has raked in over $460 million globally since the first film debuted back in 1980. To date, there 12 films starring the masked, machete-wielding antagonist Jason Voorhees. For those who prefer to stay in on Friday the 13th and not risk any bad luck, HBO Max has the 2009 reboot of Friday the 13th available for streaming, so consider that as you spend the day avoiding black cats and broken mirrors.