Dating back to biblical times, Friday the 13th has been isolated as the unluckiest day of the year. Although history has proven that the fateful date is not any less lucky than any other day, some pretty spooky things have happened on Friday the 13th that only make the lore behind it more mysterious.
No one is quite certain where the fear behind Friday the 13th came from. The Christian faith believes that 13 guests at a dinner table is unlucky because of the Last Supper. They also believe Friday is a negative day because of its connection to Jesus’ crucifixion. Others trace it back to the 13th law being omitted from Hammurabi’s Code.
In any case, the nervousness surrounding Friday the 13th is still going strong. And these events that happened on the day only bolster the superstition.
According to History.com, on this exact day, October 13th, in 1307, King Phillip IV ordered his officers to arrest hundreds of the Knights Templar, a religious and militant group that was formed in the 12th century to defend the Holy Land. Many of those arrested were executed, and some believe this to be the first tragic event linked to Friday the 13th.
Also on this day in 1972, the Uruguayan Old Christians Club rugby team was involved in a plane crash in the Andes Mountains. The 27 members who survived had to resort to cannibalism to stay alive. Their story was turned into the 1993 film Alive.
The 1989 recession also began on this day, after the stock exchange crashed. This was the most influential crash since the Great Depression.
Much earlier, on Friday, November 13th, 1829, a burgeoning daredevil named Sam Patch decided to take a giant leap into New York’s Genesee River. He had done these kinds of cliff-jumps in the past with great success. But alas, Patch’s career came careening to an end, for the Friday the 13th jump into the Genesee was his last.
On Friday, September 13th, 1940, Buckingham Palace was hit with five German bombs during one of Hitler’s “Blitz” bombings. The Palace Chapel was destroyed and three people were injured, one of whom died from their injuries.
In the summer of 1951, northeastern Kansas was experiencing a high level of rainfall. By Friday, July 13th, the Kansas River running through Topeka rose 14.8 feet above the flood plane, breaking the record for highest flood levels to that date. The flooding was so severe that 28 people died that Friday and 500,000 others were rousted from their homes.
One of New York’s most talked about murders happened on Friday, March 13th, 1964. Kitty Genovese was stabbed and raped by Winston Moseley outside of her apartment. The New York Times published an article stating that 38 people witnessed the attack, yet none of them called the police. This event is now studied in psychology courses and is referred to as the “bystander effect” or “Kitty Genovese syndrome,” aka when one sees something tragic happening but assumes someone else will step in to help.
Kitty’s brother Bill appeared in a 2015 documentary exploring the case. You can check out The Witness on Netflix.
On Friday, November 13th, 1970, the deadliest cyclone to be recorded, called the 1970 Bhola cyclone, touched down in Bangladesh, then called East Pakistan, killing an estimated 300,000-500,000 people.
Another Friday the 13th hit the year of 1989, after the stock exchange crash. IBM was struck with a deadly virus that crashed computers in Britain. Masses of data were lost and businesses were hugely affected.
Then in 2012, the Costa Concordia cruise ship capsized, leaving 30 passengers dead. The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, was arrested for manslaughter after abandoning the sinking ship instead of directing passengers on how to properly evacuate.
Friday the 13th is also the birthdate to many history-making individuals. Alfred Hitchcock was born on Friday, August 13th, 1899. On Friday, July 13th, 1821, Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest was born. And the Olsen twins were born on Friday, June 13th, 1983.
Yes, a lot of weird and tragic events occurred on Friday the 13th in history, but weird and tragic things unfortunately happen all the time. Chances are that if you go about your daily tasks today, you’ll end up being okay.
But if you would still rather stick it out from the safety of your bedroom, we get that, too.