What is friggatriskaidekaphobia?

What is friggatriskaidekaphobia?

Today is Friday the 13th, and as many know, this is said to be one of the most unlucky days of the year. Unfortunately, it actually comes around quite often. According to mathematician B.H. Brown, the thirteenth of the month is slightly more likely to be on a Friday than on any other day.

But where does this superstition about the number 13 come from? It’s thought that these anxieties stem from the Bible. Allegedly, it was Judas Iscariot, the disciple that betrayed Jesus, that was the 13th person to be seated at the Last Supper.

Superstitions about Friday the 13th have led to the diagnosis of “friggatriskaidekaphobia”, which is an irrational fear of the date. This word finds its root outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In fact, the term friggatriskaidekaphobia comes from the old Norse Frigga, which was the name of the Norse goddess after which Friday was named.

To lighten the mood on this notorious day, we’ll keep going with the fun facts and share 13 more about days and dates.

13 facts about days and dates for Friday the 13th

  1. The Christian calendar, which starts at 0 AD, was calculated by an amusingly-named monk called Denis the Small in the sixth century.
  2. In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that Denis’s conception of the year 0 AD was probably wrong. The Pope said that historians have estimated that Christ was actually born sometime between 7 BC and 2 BC.
  3. We haven’t always used the Gregorian calendar to count months and days. Before 1582, the Julian calendar was used in most parts of Europe, which was originally implemented by the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar.
  4. As for the days of the week, they date back even further. The Gregorian calendar followed the lead of ancient Babylon, which since 600 BC, used a seven-day week based on the phases of the moon.
  5. Before the switch to the Gregorian calendar, the New Year in England was on the 25th of March, which marked a festival called Lady Day that honoured the Virgin Mary. Other European countries chose different dates, such as Christmas Day or the Feast of the Annunciation.
  6. Pope Gregory XIII decided to change the system as the Julian calendar miscalculated the length of the solar year by 11 minutes. This meant that the date of Easter, which religious leaders wanted to fall around the spring equinox, kept moving further and further away from the date.
  7. However, the Gregorian calendar is still 11 seconds off. This means that by 4909, the Gregorian calendar will be a full day ahead of the actual solar year.
  8. In fact, the Gregorian calendar isn’t the most accurate measure. National Geographic has said, “the Persian calendar, the official calendar of Iran and Afghanistan, requires fewer adjustments such as leap years.” Some researchers suggest the Mayan calendar is more precise still.
  9. Nonetheless, the Gregorian calendar’s popularity has endured – but the change wasn’t easy. Many Protestant countries in the north of Europe didn’t want to change because it was devised by the Papacy. For example, Germany didn’t change over until 1700.
  10. The UK, meanwhile, didn’t adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752. According to some accounts, there was rioting in the streets when the date changed from 2nd September to the 14th overnight. Apparently, crowds chanted, “give us back our 11 days!”
  11. There’s been more resistance to the Gregorian calendar throughout history. After the French Revolution, many pushed for a 10-day long calendar that wasn’t associated with religion.
  12. In 2011, Richard Conn Henry, former deputy director of NASA’s astrophysics division, teamed up with economist Steve Hanke to create a calendar that was always perfectly in line with the solar year. Despite its ingenuity, it goes without saying that it hasn’t caught on.
  13. To conclude with a final Friday the 13th fact, the most unlucky year this decade will be 2026, with three Friday the 13ths. With the decade we’ve had already, fingers crossed it’s all just superstition…



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