Did you wake up with a foreboding feeling today, like maybe you’ll cross paths with a black cat, break a mirror or encounter a hockey-masked killer? That’s Friday the 13th for you.

Today’s date will send cold shivers of fear down the spines of those suffering from Friggatriskaidekaphobia the fear of Friday the 13th. If you have issues with saying that, you may have Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, the fear of long words.

Debate surrounds the origin of Friday the 13th’s reputation. One theory: According to Wikipedia, French King Philip IV, having become envious of the Knights Templars’ fortunes, gave orders on Friday, Oct. 13, 1307, to arrest the knights and charge them with heinous crimes.

Another theory that explains fear of the number 13 goes back to Norse mythology, according to an article from National Geographic News. A Norse myth recounts a dinner party of 12 gods at Valhalla, their heaven. When the 13th, and uninvited, guest, Loki the Trickster, arrived, he “arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow.” Balder died and the world grew dark.

Christian tradition also points to unlucky 13 in that Judas, betrayer of Jesus, was the 13th guest at the Last Supper.

Whatever it’s origin, let’s hope none of you are as unlucky as some of these people:

  • Frane Selak – this Croatian music teacher met with a number of most deathly accidents. First the train he took to travel broke off the trail and plunged into the icy river beneath killing many others except Selak. The door of the plane he was flying on blew off and he was blown off the plane to land safely in a stack of hay. The bus he took crashed leaving many dead and Selak with minor injuries. His car caught fire twice and blew up. He drove off a cliff to avoid crashing into a truck and landed on a tree to watch his car explode beneath him. Dependent on how you look at it, he was either very lucky, or very unlucky.
  • Ivan McGuire – in 1988 the skydiver decided to film his 3,000m jump above North Carolina. He remembered his camera, but forgot his parachute!
  • Then there’s the case of Belgian air force, which killed three unlucky men in Sudan when they dropped a crate of food on top of them. The pilots were taking part in a humanitarian relief effort.
  • Ann Hodges – the only person (on record) to have been hit by a Meteorite.
  • Frenchman Jacques LeFevrier left nothing to chance when he decided to commit suicide. He stood at the top of a tall cliff and tied a noose around his neck. He tied the other end of the rope to a large rock. He drank some poison and set fire to his clothes. He even tried to shoot himself at the last moment. He jumped and fired the pistol. The bullet missed him completely, but cut through the hanging rope instead. Freed of the threat of hanging, LeFevrier plunged into the sea. The sudden plunge into the freezing waters extinguished the flames and apparently made him vomit the poison as well. He was dragged out of the water by witnesses on the beach below the cliff and was taken to a hospital. Fate, it seemed, had determined that he would live, and his lust for life was restored. Unfortunately, he never left the hospital, dying there of hypothermia.

Unfortunate Friday The 13th Events

  • During World War II, German bombers struck Buckingham Palace with five bombs on September 1940.
  • In November 1970, an epic storm in Asia killed some 300,000 people in Bangladesh, floods caused the deaths of as many as 1 million in the Ganges delta.
  • Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson were born on Friday the 13th in June 1986. Tupac Shakur died on Friday the 13th in September 1996. Good? Bad? That’s your call.
  • The year 1989 was a banner year for Friday the 13th. In January, the “Friday the 13th virus” infected IBM computers across Great Britain, one of the first major outbreaks of a computer virus. In October, the Dow Jones Industrial Average recorded the second largest crash up until that time, falling more than 190 points. Really, 190 points was a big deal at the time.
  • Friday the 13th falls at least once a year, sometimes as many as three times, as will be the case in 2012.
  • If you have trepidation about Friday the 13th, rest assured you’re not alone. According to the aforementioned National Geographic New article, Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C., estimates as many as 21 million people in the U.S. have a phobia of Friday the 13th.