Friday the 13th: What’s the history behind the superstition?

Peter Hellberg (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Peter Hellberg (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Rose Troup Buchanan writes at The Independent:

Today is the first of three Fridays this year that will fall on the 13 day of the month, but where does our superstition surrounding Friday the 13, known as paraskevidekatriaphobia, originate from?

Friday 13 in history and fiction

Folklorist claim there is no written evidence for the superstition before the nineteenth century however; the date has long been connected to notorious events in history and religion.

According to Catholic belief the crucifixion of Jesus Christ took place on a Friday the 13, the day after the Last Supper – involving thirteen participants – on Thursday.

Geoffrey Chaucer made reference to the apparent unluckiness of the day, recording in his Canterbury Tales that it was bad luck to start a journey or a project on a Friday.

One of the most popularised myths attempting to explain the origin of the Friday 13 superstition stems from events on Friday 13 October 1307, when hundreds of Knights Templar were arrested and burnt across France.

This myth caught the public’s attention after it was used by Dan Brown, among other historical fiction writers, and has been peddled endlessly by conspiracy theorists linking the Knights Templar to everything from Freemasonry to the Holy Grail.