Origins of Friday the 13th: How the Day Got So Spooky

Oct 13, 2017

By Stephanie Pappas

Bad luck comes in twos in 2017. This year features a duo of Friday the 13ths, the second of which occurs today (Oct. 13). The first myth-mired Friday fell on Jan. 13 this year.

Today, it’s taken for granted that Friday the 13th is an inauspicious day, but that wasn’t always the case. Until the late 1800s, no one felt that Fridays that happen to fall on the 13th day of the month were anything special at all.

Exactly how the date became mired in the mind as an unlucky one is murky. Certainly the idea was firmly implanted in the cultural consciousness by 1980, when the slasher flick “Friday the 13th” was released. The hockey-masked villain of that tale, Jason Voorhees, has taken on a life of his own, driving 12 films as well as multiple novellas and comic books. Thus, it’s no surprise that a Google Ngram search of the phrase “Friday the 13th” finds the term shot up in use in books in 1980. 

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