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There are several interesting stories about this, but what historical information do we have that would indicate the correct one?

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Great question Ides of march –  Napoleonothecake Oct 26 '11 at 1:54
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How can there be "correct" folklore? Folklore is by definition a collection of myths. –  John Oct 26 '11 at 4:24
    
I concur, superstitions while they have a thread of truth are hard to nail down. –  MichaelF Oct 28 '11 at 18:00
    
To make it even more confusing, it's Tuesday the 13th in Spain. Why, oh, why. –  fledermaus Oct 27 '12 at 12:17
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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Superstitions are hard to nail down as to the source, but this one doesn't seem to go back far and from what I have been told, in the US, it originates or resonates from the Last Supper. Jesus had 13 at the dinner the night before he was killed. So if you take many of the following sources at face value:

  • 13 in numerology is unlucky because it's an incomplete number, these are numbers that contain a deprivation or basically numbers that are more focused on the earthly than the divine (this comes from Jewish numerology)
  • Friday's are bad due to multiple reasons (The Canterbury Tales notes it as a bad day), Jesus was crucified on a Friday, Stock Market crashes have occurred on Fridays...see the Wikipedia link for more
  • 13 is an unlucky number in Norse mythology
  • This seems to be an invention of the 19th Century

Places you can look: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friday_the_Thirteenth

http://urbanlegends.about.com/cs/historical/a/friday_the_13th.htm

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/friday13th.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/friday-the-13th-phobias-and-the-five-strangest-fears-you-never-knew-existed/2011/05/13/AFJdaO2G_blog.html

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Fridays are bad? Why? –  Joze Nov 10 '11 at 13:11
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Noted in the post... –  MichaelF Nov 10 '11 at 17:48
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©MichaelF please what is an incomplete number? BTW, my Mandarin teacher taught me that four (四, sì) is considered unlucky in China, because it sounds similar to dead (死, sǐ). –  Drux Oct 28 '12 at 13:19
    
The bias against the the known-history of the 13th and the Templars is.... unscientific. –  New Alexandria Oct 29 '12 at 3:26
    
@Drux that is correct, the Japanese have the same superstition for 4 and 7, they have two pronunciations one that is close to Shi (death) and one that is different to avoid the superstition –  MichaelF Oct 29 '12 at 12:11
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It is not actually a superstition as much as it is an historical event. The traditional association of Friday 13th comes from the Church's massacre of Knights Templar on Friday, October 13th, 1307.

The order was given by King Philip IV of France, due to a number of reasons. You can read about it in numerous books or get the quick and dirty from Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Knights_Templar#Fall

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You've duplicated the now deleted bogus answer by JoeHobbit. This is wrong because this superstition didn't come up until 19th century. An event that happened some 500 years earlier couldn't have possibly caused it, so this definitely isn't the "historically correct version". Now if there were some novel or something else that popularized that event in the 19th century it might be a reason for this superstition. But there doesn't seem to be anything like this. –  Wladimir Palant Nov 15 '11 at 10:26
    
@WladimirPalant source? The date of Philip's surprise attack on the Templar is well-documented. I know those whose family has passed title of knighthood since before the 13th C, and they attest the lore has been in their family since that day. That's anecdotal for anyone whose family does not carry these stories, but the only difference between this history and, say, D-Day stories, is the amount of exposed-people. –  New Alexandria Oct 29 '12 at 3:24
    
This is the version that I've encountered in history textbooks as well. I'll bring it up to 0 until we have a reference for the bogus call (if it IS bogus, damn those Victorians for making such convincing stories!) –  user3169 Nov 28 '12 at 6:30
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