19 Reasons Why Friday the 13th Still Scares Us

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6. 13th Norse god is god of mischief

Even though superstition about the number 13 is deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian tradition, other cultures are wary of the number as well. In Norse mythology, 12 gods were having a party in Valhalla. They were joined by a 13th god, Loki, the god of mischief, who had the Norse god of joy Baldur shot with a deadly mistletoe-tipped arrow. Baldur died and the world became consumed in grief.

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7. Knights persecuted

Claiming they were heretics, French King Philip IV rounded up thousands of Knights Templar on Friday, October 13, 1307, and tortured them. This is one of the earliest ill-omen associations of Friday with the 13th day of the month.

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8. Chaucer referenced Friday as unlucky

The great English writer Geoffrey Chaucer referenced Friday as unlucky in “The Canterbury Tales.” In “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale,” Chaucer wrote, “And on a Friday fell all this mischance.”

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9. Power of suggestion

Because the belief that bad things happen on Friday the 13th is so embedded in our culture, our fears are reinforced, imposing more anxiety on us — a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. “It is like telling someone they are cursed,” said Dr. Caroline Watt of the University of Edinburgh, in a story in the British newspaper The Telegram. “If they believe they are cursed, then they will worry, their blood pressure will go up, and they put themselves at risk.”

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10. FDR feared 13

President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said in his first inaugural address that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” However, the nation’s 32nd president also had an irrational fear of the number 13. He would not travel on the 13th day of any month and refused to host a meal with 13 guests. Other noted triskaidekaphobics are Napoleon, Herbert Hoover, and the horror-novel writer Stephen King.