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Why Is Friday the 13th Unlucky?

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Tuesday, 10 January 2017 GMT

Author: Jack Chapman

Friday the 13th is a day shrouded in mystery and superstition. As personal vehicle insurance specialists we understand that accidents happen all the time, but with Friday the 13th approaching we are interested to know why this day is thought to be so famously unlucky.


It is something that people firmly believe in and the fear of Friday 13th even has a name – paraskevidekatriaphobia.

History of Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th is said to have many different origins, with both Friday and the number thirteen being unlucky. The superstition around this day is said to come from medieval times and even has links back to Biblical times.

  • The most likely link to the Friday 13th superstition comes from Friday October 13th 1307, where on this day, Pope Clement V of the Roman Catholic Church and King Philip IV of France had the Knights Templar arrested and killed on accounts of heresy. This myth has been made popular by Dan Brown and other historical fictional writers.
  • In the New Testament there were thirteen people present at the last supper the day before Christ’s crucifixion which is believed to have occurred on Friday 13th.


  • It is also thought that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and were ejected from the Garden of Eden and the start of the great flood happened on Friday 13th
  • It is also possible that Thomas. W Lawson’s novel, Friday, The Thirteenth, published in 1907 helped add to the idea of this day being unlucky. In the novel a Wall Street stock broker takes advantage of the superstition to create panic on Wall Street on Friday 13th.

Unlucky Things to Happen on Friday the 13th

Here are some of the unfortunate events to happen on Friday 13th:

  • On Friday September 13th 1940 Buckingham Palace was bombed during the Blitz. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were both at the Palace taking tea at the time – but escaped unscathed.
  • In 1976, New York resident Daz Baxter was apparently so scared of Friday the 13th he decided that staying in bed was the safest place for him to be. However, Mr Baxter was killed when he fell six storeys after the floor of his apartment block collapsed.
  • In the early 1990s retired bus conductor Bob Renphrey also made a vow to stay in bed every Friday the 13th after his previous mishaps on the superstitious day. The Welshman had crashed his car four times, crashed his motorcycle, fell in a river, walked through a plate glass door and been made redundant all on previous Friday 13ths. After his death in 1998, Mr Renphrey’s wife wanted to hold his funeral on Friday 13th but all the undertakers in Rhyl were busy that day.

  • Rapper Tupac Shakur died on Friday September 13th 1996 – six days after being shot in a drive-by shooting.
  • The number 13 is definitely unlucky for some. A 13 year-old boy was struck by lightning on Friday 13th August 2010 at exactly 1.13pm or 13:13 at an air show in Suffolk.


How Often Does Friday the 13th Occur in 2017?

There will be two Friday 13ths in 2017 the first is in January and the second will be in October.

Is Friday the 13th Really that Unlucky?

Although many are wary of Friday 13th whilst out on the roads, there is little evidence either way whether or not you’re more likely to have an accident on Friday 13th.

Insurers in the Netherlands found in a study that Friday the 13th has the least insurance claims compared to any other Friday.

On the other hand insurers, Aviva, found in a study that some motorists are more unlucky on Friday 13th. An analysis of 10 years claims data revealed that spookily there’s a 13% raise in motor collision claims on a Friday 13th, whether that is on a cold winter’s morning or a sunny summer afternoon.

Whether you believe in Friday the 13th or not, you can rest assured that whatever day you decide to get out and about, as long as you have the right personal vehicle insurance in place, you’ll be covered should anything happen.

Do you believe in Friday the 13th or do you have any superstitions? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

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