The dreaded Friday the 13th is upon us for the second time this year. And while superstitious folks are ducking and diving in an effort to survive, it’s an opportune moment to explore a few facts behind a day associated with tragedy, misfortune and rotten luck.
What is the Origin of Friday the 13th?
According to students of the Old Testament, the origin of Friday 13th harks back to the beginning of time. It’s the day Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit and unleashed good and evil on mankind. It’s also the day Noah and the Ark set sail on the flood waters that covered the earth. For those poor souls who didn’t get a berth, the day went from bad to decidedly worse!
In medieval history, Friday the 13th was disastrous for the Knights Templar. On that date in 1303, Philip IV of France had all the members of the Catholic military order summarily arrested, tortured and horribly humiliated. That effectively put paid to their decades long treasure hunt.
Whether the disasters that befell these legendary figures kickstarted the centuries-old superstition; Friday the 13th remains one of the most feared days on the Gregorian calendar.
Real-Life Incidents that Happened on Friday 13
Several notable calamities have occurred on a day that prompts large swathes of Canadians to stay at home. In 1940 the King and Queen of England were nearly blown to bits when the Luftwaffe bombed Buckingham Palace.
Thirty two years later and the Chilean air disaster left a few fortuitous frequent flyers struggling to survive in a remote corner of the Andes. Cold, alone and unbelievably hungry, the strongest survived by eating the flesh of fellow passengers.
In January 2012 the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground in Italy killing 30 people and racking up $847 million in damages. In August 1993 the Royal Plaza Hotel in Thailand collapsed leaving 137 people dead, 227 injured and an estimated repair bill of $4.2 million. Now that’s seriously bad luck for the paying guests and the owners of the multi-room leisure palaces.
Is it Really a Day of Misfortune?
Is Friday the 13th really cursed or is the bad stuff that happens purely coincidental? Well, let’s take a look at the rumours that motor vehicle accidents rise. A study by a Dutch insurance company proves the opposite is true.
Data accumulated over time showed there were fewer accidents on the 13th compared to the average Friday. It may be because drivers are aware of the risk and drive more carefully. Or it may be because tons of commuters in Holland, France, Canada – and in many countries around the world – have traditionally stayed off the roads.
In the USA Friday the 13th costs the economy more than $2 million. Businesses operate without half their staff, airlines and trains run empty and in the rural areas where superstition is strong, the roads are almost deserted.
Friday the 13th Effect on World Stock Markets: True or False?
Then there’s the so-called ‘Friday the 13th effect’ on the stock markets. Economists have noticed a losing trend on the day. A quick glance at the Toronto Stock Exchange does show a negative change of just 0.37% but a negative change none the less.
On the other side of the world, South Africa’s All Share Index is down by 0.04%, Britain’s FTSE 100 Index is in negative territory losing 0.37% overnight and Germany’s DAX is also down by 0.31%….so perhaps there is some malevolent force that does indeed affect global markets after all!