TAMPA (WFLA) — From walking under ladders to spilling salt, there’s no end to our eerie superstitions.
Over the years, Friday the 13th has joined them, but why is the day thought to bring bad luck?
The fear of Friday the 13th — called paraskevidekatriaphobia — dates back some 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonians because the number didn’t divide easily.
In Christian mythology, thirteen guests attended the Last Supper, the day before Jesus’s crucifixion on a Friday. History.com says this is the root of a Christian superstition that having 13 guests at a table is a bad omen.
Seeking to remove the stigma surrounding the superstitious day, the Thirteen Club was created in the late 19th century.
A few U.S. presidents met on Friday the 13th with the specific goal of confronting fears associated with the day. The club hosted a symbolic dinner, which they reached by walking under a ladder and a banner that read, “Morituri te Salutamus.” The Latin phrase means, “Those of us who are about to die salute you.”
There were 13 candles, 13 courses for dinner, and spilled salt to show the world how little the group feared the day.
The club existed until the 1920s and members included former U.S. Presidents Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison and Theodore Roosevelt.
Although there are a variety of reasons people believe in the doomsday, there isn’t any scientific evidence proving the day is inherently unlucky. Even still, certain hotels still avoid an official 13th floor due to the widespread morbid fear of the number 13, and some airlines don’t list a 13th row in their plane cabins, skipping directly from 12 to 14.
Nevertheless, this ominous day is here to stay: Every calendar year has between one and three Friday the 13ths.