The number 13 has been considered unlucky dating back to at least 1700 B.C. The superstitious fears that surround Friday the 13th, however, likely began with the publishing of a book in 1907 entitled Friday the Thirteenth. Although the book focused solely on a man's attempt to crash the stock market on the 13th of the month - which happened to be a Friday - the concept of Friday the 13th sprouted roots and spread quickly throughout the world. According to Time.com, as much as $800 million is lost in commerce each Friday the 13th due to people's reluctance to travel, conduct business, or in some cases - even leave their homes. In addition to the day being a magnet for all things malevolent, many specific superstitions lurk the shadows of this ominous day.
If you're a Paraskevidekatriaphobia, or put more simply, a person who fears Friday the 13th, you may be able to keep yourself safe by simply pulling up the covers and staying in bed. If you happen to be unlucky enough to have been born on Friday the 13th, however, all bets are off. Superstition has it that for those unfortunate souls, bad luck will follow them for the rest of their lives.
You've heard that loose lips sink ships? Evidently, so does setting sail on Friday the 13th. This superstition is so widely feared that it gave birth to an urban legend all its own. As the legend goes, the British Royal Navy, in an attempt to prove to its sailors that there was nothing to fear by setting sail on Friday the 13th, devised a plan involving the ship, HMS Friday. The crew was hired on a Friday, the captain's last name was Friday, and they launched her maiden voyage on a Friday. Alas, neither the ship nor crew was ever seen again.
As if funerals aren't dreadful enough, on Friday the 13th they are particularly macabre. Superstition has it that if you pass a funeral procession - or even if one passes you - you will be the next to die. A variation of this eerie belief is that not only will you be the next to die, but you will die the very next day. Yikes! If you absolutely must get out of bed, at least be sure to avoid funeral homes, cemeteries, and all routes in between.
With many Friday the 13th hazards, you have control over your own destiny. Not when it comes to getting your hair cut, however. If you're careless enough to get your locks trimmed on this dreadful day, superstition claims that someone in your family will die. Before you get any ideas, just keep in mind that you don't get to choose who.
At bedtime you take a deep breath and congratulate yourself for your stealth in avoiding all the perils and pitfalls of the day. You can't let your guard down yet, though. Be sure not to change beds on Friday the 13th or bad dreams will haunt you all night long. Now, lie down in your own bed and sleep tight. Tomorrow's a new day.
Claire Suddath, "A Brief History of Friday the 13th," Time.com
"Naval Friday 13th Myth Unfounded," BBC News
More from Cherri: