Cheat Sheet

Why Friday the 13th is unlucky (unless you're Taylor Swift)

Thango Ntwasa has put together a cheat sheet that'll help you survive Friday the 13th unscathed

13 April 2018 - 00:53 By Thango Ntwasa
All manner of unlucky things are rumoured to happen on Friday the 13th.
All manner of unlucky things are rumoured to happen on Friday the 13th.
Image: 123RF/belchonock


Friday the 13th.


Every time the month begins on a Sunday.

Job description:

An old wives' tale.

Why do we care?

You might be paranoid that the stock market will crash, psycho-killer Jason Voorhees will come after you with a bloody machete, or that you'll simply get gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe.

In fact, the fear of Friday the 13th — officially called paraskevidekatriaphobia — can be so powerful that some people won't travel or make big purchases on that date. Some even hideout at home (possibly under the covers) until it's all over.

In an article on The Telegraph, America's Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute estimates that businesses can lose up to $900-million because of this superstition.

I just need to know, is Friday the 13th really cursed?

Italian composer Gioachino Rossini definitely thought so. According to the Independent, an 1869 biography about him contains one of the first mentions of the ill-fated date. It says he believed that both Fridays and the number 13 were unlucky. Murphy's Law, he died on Friday the 13th.  

It's possible that Thomas W. Lawson's novel Friday the Thirteenth also contributed to the date's infamy. First published in 1907, but still being printed today, the story follows a Wall Street broker who tries to crash the stock markets on, you guessed it, Friday the 13th. 

Then, of course, there's the widely-popular Friday the 13th slasher film franchise about psychotic, Hockey-mask-wearing mamma's boy, Jason Voorhees, who can't be killed. Rumour has it there's a 40th-anniversary release planned for the thirteenth movie in the horror series in 2020.

So, you're saying nothing bad will happen to me on Friday the 13th?

I don't have a crystal ball or Raven-Symone's contact lenses, but Tupac Shakur passed away on Friday September 13 1996. 

Uruguayan Flight 571 crashed in the Andes on Friday October 13 1972; 12 passengers lost their lives and the remaining 16 had to eat their remains in order to survive. Their story was later told in the powerful film, Alive.

The Costa Concordia cruise ship also ran aground off the Italian coast on Friday January 13 2012 resulting in the deaths of 32 people. 

So everyone just dies on this day?

Well, on Friday July 13 1821,  Nathan Bedford Forrest was born. He went on to become the first Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan, according to

OK, I'm a little freaked out. I think this curse is real, what do I do now?

There isn't a surefire way to escape bad luck, but you could resist the urge to whistle indoors, try not to break any mirrors, avoid black cats that seem intent on crossing your path ... you know the usual stuff your granny told you to do. Oh, and steer clear of the number 13.

Ah, this seems to come up a lot. Is the number 13 cursed?

Some believe superstitions around Friday the 13th — and the fear of the number 13 itself — stem from early Christianity. Christ was crucified on a Friday, and Judas was the thirteenth guest to join the table during the Last Supper.

There also happen to be 13 letters in the names of cult leader Charles Manson and serial killer Theodore Bundy.

There are 13 letters in the names of cult leader Charles Manson and serial killer Theodore Bundy

Some people get the heebie-jeebies over staying on the thirteenth floor in a hotel or sitting in the thirteenth row on a plane, which is why some airlines and resorts skip straight from 12 to 14 when numbering these things.

How do I protect myself from the number 13?

You could burn all your Taylor Swift albums; it's her lucky number.

In an interview with MTV, the singer explains "I was born on the 13th. I turned 13 on Friday the 13th. My first album went gold in 13 weeks. My first #1 song had a 13-second intro. Every time I've won an award I've been seated in either the 13th seat, the 13th row, the 13th section or row M, which is the 13th letter."