Friday the 13th: 7 Reasons People Fear the Number 13

Friday 13It’s Friday the 13th — it’s also the first Friday the 13th of 2014. It’s not unusual to feel a dark cloud overhead on Friday the 13th.  Fear surrounding the number 13 dates back to as early as 1700 BC. Some bad things – planned or by accident – have connection to the number 13, making people more fearful of the number. Here are 7 reasons people fear the number 13.


If you dine with 12 other people – you being the 13th diner – you will all die within the year. The curse has a Scandinavian origin. The evil Norse god Loki, crashed a dinner party for 12. During the fracas Loki caused, Balder, the god of light, joy and reconciliation died. Loki allegedly tricked Balder’s blind brother into shooting him in the heart by a mistletoe tipped arrow.

For the Last Supper the 12 disciples all dined together – Jesus was the 13th diner – and, as the “Last Supper” suggests, it was Jesus’ last meal before his crucifixion.

Bonus fact: In France, if a dinner for more than 12 people is hosted, socialites make themselves available for dinner in case someone cancels to avoid a 13-person dinner.

Apollo 13

Apollo 13 was a manned space mission to the Moon in 1970. Just two days after launch, an oxygen tank exploded, causing mechanical problems and thwarting the mission. The crew made it safely back to Earth, but the events did little to ease fears of the number 13.

Knights of Templar

During the Crusades, the Knights of Templar were skilled warriors supported by the Catholic Church. France’s King Phillip IV didn’t trust the order and, suspiciously, had mounted debt to them. It was Friday, October 13, 1307 when he took action. He accused them of many offenses including heresy and devil worship and ordered the arrest and torture of the Knights of Templar.


On September 13, 1940 as a part of Hitler’s Blitz, England’s Buckingham Palace was hit by five German bombs. The raid didn’t end until the next morning. One worker was killed and the damage was not major. Both King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were there and survived the bombings.


On November 13, 1970, an estimate 500,000 people were killed by a cyclone that hit Bangladesh. The storm caused flooding throughout the country leading to more death and destruction — more than 1 million people died in total making it one of the deadliest storms in recent history.

Andes Flight Disaster

On October 13, 1972 a plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby team crashed in the Andes Mountains – 27 of the 45 people on the flight survived the crash, but eight more died in an avalanche and others died because of the cold. 16 people were rescued more than two months later. The events were retold in the book Alive as well as the movie of the same name.

Whether or not the number 13 has anything to do with disasters, the fear doesn’t seem to disappear. It’s too early to tell if June 13, 2014 is a disastrous date, but fingers are crossed we’ll make it through the day unscathed.

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  1. December 2, 2014

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