Why is Friday 13th believed to be unlucky?

Last updated at 07:32
Girl in front of number 13Getty Images

It's Friday 13th this week - supposedly the unluckiest day! But why do people always think something bad's going to happen when it comes around?

No one's sure what the exact origin of the superstition is.

The number 13 and Friday both have a long history of bringing bad luck - and it's the combination of the two that makes the day the most feared.

'Unlucky' 13

Many think that the reason for the number 13's bad luck comes from the Bible. Judas, who betrayed Jesus, is thought to have been the 13th guest to sit down to the Last Supper.

Even today, it's considered unlucky to have 13 people sitting at a dinner table, and some people pop a teddy bear in a seat to make the number of guests up to 14!

In Norse mythology, a dinner party of the gods was ruined by the 13th guest called Loki, who caused the world to be plunged into darkness.

People around the dinner tableGetty Images
It is considered to be unlucky to have 13 people sat around the dinner table

It seems the superstition has stuck. Some hotels will have no room 13, while a lot of tall buildings 'don't have' a 13th floor, jumping straight from 12 to 14. Some airlines also refuse to have a row 13 in their planes too.

'Unlucky' Friday

For hundreds of years, Friday has been considered the unluckiest day of the week. In Geoffrey Chaucer's famous Canterbury Tales, written in the 14th Century, he says "and on a Friday fell all this mischance".

In Britain, Friday was once known as Hangman's Day because it was usually when people who had been condemned to death would be hanged.

But Good Friday - the day of Jesus Christ's crucifixion - is thought to be the only Friday that bucks the trend, hence its name.

If you're born on Good Friday you're thought to be lucky, while sailors, who are notoriously superstitious, would sometimes begin a long voyage on Good Friday because of its holy connections.

Fear of Friday 13th?

But the combination of Friday and the number 13 as a day of particularly bad luck seems to be a relatively recent tradition - perhaps only about 100 years old.

There's even a special word for the fear of Friday 13th - paraskevidekatriaphobia. We've got a fear of trying to pronounce that word...!

Let us know below if you believe that Friday 13th is an unlucky day - or if you have any other superstitions!


Are you superstitious about Friday 13th? Has anything weird or unlucky ever happened to you on this unlucky day? Or perhaps you've had some good fortune and don't believe that it's unlucky at all! Let us know...

Leave us a comment below or send in your messages to newsroundcomments@bbc.co.uk


  • View all (11)
  • Comment number 11. Posted by Wildcat

    17 Jul 2018 16:37
    More like good luck day for me! 3 of my friends had birthdays.
  • Comment number 10. Posted by Aunicornburger876

    14 Jul 2018 15:34
    Someone broke there arm and we always get SRE on Friday 13th.😖🙀

    (edited by moderator)
  • Comment number 9. Posted by U17003454

    13 Jul 2018 21:35
    I dont belive in this but today i dropped my ice cream on the floor so did my sister and my water bottle leaked
  • Comment number 8. Posted by dazzlingunicorn81

    13 Jul 2018 19:55
    I don't think it's its unlucky i dont know why i just dont!
  • Comment number 7. Posted by Bouncy Pizza Pup

    13 Jul 2018 18:40
    If they've got the fear of long words it's called hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. Yeah! That's WORSE!
  • Comment number 6. Posted by Bouncy Pizza Pup

    13 Jul 2018 18:39
    The boys in my class were even MORE annoying today.
  • Comment number 5. Posted by loisella123

    13 Jul 2018 17:56
    Well I went to a high school taster day and I'm pretty sure we lost the relay :(
  • Comment number 4. Posted by Official Newsround

    13 Jul 2018 15:01

    My sister was born on a Friday the 13th, at 13:13. Apparently the midwife put down 13:14 on her records so as not to freak everyone out too much...

    Needless to say, Friday the 13th is considered a lucky day in our family.
  • Comment number 3. Posted by Princess Sparkle

    13 Jul 2018 9:50
    Last year we were all writing scary stories in class and we were told to pick a date and all of us picked Friday 13th October 2017!
  • Comment number 2. Posted by tigerattack

    13 Jul 2018 9:32
    I actually have Fridays as good days (we get out of school earlier, it's the weekend, we get no homework, we do fun subjects and I have Dancing on later) and 13 is one of my lucky numbers (it's a prime number and I like the shape) so I count Friday the 13th as lucky, mainly because other people think it is unlucky!