Friday the 13th

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Are you afraid of the day Friday the 13th? Liz Waid and Joshua Leo look at stories that have made people think this day is extremely unlucky.

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight, I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Joshua Leo. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

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Voice 1 

Friday the 13th. Are you frightened when I say these words? If the words “Friday the 13th” frighten you, you are like millions of other people. They share the same fear. They believe that Friday the 13th is an extremely unlucky and even dangerous day! But is Friday the 13th an unlucky day? Is something bad more likely to happen to a person on Friday the 13th? Today’s Spotlight is on Friday the 13th.

Voice 2

Many years ago, humans needed a way to organize time. They made a system of days, weeks, months and years. In Western cultures there are 12 months in a year. And there are about 30 days in each month. Each week has seven days. About two times every year, the 13th day of the month will be a Friday. Some people say that each Friday the 13th is very unlucky. They fear this day.

Voice 1 

Fear of Friday the 13th is mostly a Western tradition. It is even a part of popular culture. For example, there are some horror films called Friday the 13th. They are very violent and frightening. Many people watch them because they enjoy being frightened. In some of these movies, the violence begins on the day Friday the 13th.

Voice 2 

Where does this fear come from? Experts believe that the fear of Friday the 13th comes from two separate fears that come together. They are the fear of the number 13, and the fear of the day Friday. Many people believe each separate thing is already unlucky. But when you combine them, they are even more unlucky!

Voice 1 

There are many stories about where the fear of Friday the 13th came from. Donald Dossey is a folklore historian. He studies ancient stories from many different cultures. Dossey tells National Geographic Magazine about the beginning of the fear of the number 13. He says the first writing about the fear of the number 13 comes from an ancient Norse story. Adam Navis tells this story:

Voice 3 

“The great hero Balder was having a special party. There were 12 people at the party. Then, Loki came to the party. He had not been invited. When he came, there were 13 people. Loki liked to play tricks. He told another person to shoot an arrow at Balder. Balder died and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day.”

Voice 2 

In some traditions people refuse to serve a meal to exactly 13 people. They believe it is very bad luck. In France, there used to be people called “fourteeners.” People having a dinner party did not want to have 13 guests. So they would invite one more person to be at the table – a fourteener.

Voice 1 

Some people also believe the number 13 is bad because of a story from the Christian Bible. 13 was the number of people at Jesus’ last meal before he died. His follower, Judas, was the 13th person to arrive at the meal. Judas was the one who betrayed Jesus.

Voice 2 

These things made people mistrust the number 13. Many high-rise apartment buildings and hotels do not even have a 13th floor. Most of these buildings go from floor 12 to floor 14. Or they use a different letter or number for the 13th floor. Many airports also do not have a 13th gate. Hospitals and hotels often have no room number 13.

Voice 1 

But this fear of the number 13 is only one half of the fear of Friday the 13th. The other half of fearing Friday the 13th is a fear of the day Friday. The fear of Friday also comes from stories in history. Jesus was killed on a Friday. In the Christian Bible, and in other religious books, there is a story of a great flood that destroyed the earth. Some people say the flood rains started on Friday. Long ago, some people refused to start new projects on a Friday because of these stories.

Voice 2 

Sailors were especially worried about Fridays. They would often refuse to set sail on a Friday. Rena Dam tells an old story about sailors and Friday the 13th.

Voice 4 

“The British Navy wanted to stop sailors’ fear of Friday. They wanted to show them there was nothing to be worried about. So, they planned a new trip. They chose the sailors on a Friday. They launched the ship on a Friday. They named the ship the H.M.S. Friday. They even chose a man named James Friday to lead the trip as the Captain. Then, one Friday morning, the ship set sail for its first trip. It was never seen or heard from again.”

Voice 1 

No one knows if this story is true or not. But it may have made people even more afraid to do important things on a Friday.

Voice 2 

Even today, fear of Friday the 13th is common in Western cultures. Some research shows that more people go to the hospital on Friday the 13th. Some people refuse to even go to work. Some people try not to plan an important event like a wedding for Friday the 13th.

Voice 1 

Donald Dossey estimates that businesses lose about $800,000,000 each Friday the 13th. People will not fly on an airplane on Friday the 13th. They do not do all the business they would normally do.  Many of these people may not even know the stories about the history of Friday the 13th. They have a superstitious fear of the day. That is, they fear it for no good reason.

Voice 2 

Superstitious fears are common in many cultures around the world. But they can be very unhealthy. They may stop people from living normal lives because they are so afraid. But people do not need to be afraid! Richard Wiseman is a psychologist from the University of Hertfordshire. He has some wise words for people who fear Friday the 13th:

Voice 5 

“People need to remember that they can create much of their own good and bad luck. And they should concentrate on being lucky by, for example, looking at the positive events in their lives. They can remember all the good things that have happened. And most of all, they can be prepared to take control of their future.”

Voice 1 

It is true that bad things can happen on Friday the 13th. But bad things can happen every day. And so can good things! Christians believe that the world is ordered by a loving God, not by luck. They know that they do not have to be afraid – not even on Friday the 13th.

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Sara De Koster. The producer was Liz Waid. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called “Friday the 13th”.

Voice 1 

You can also leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.


Are you afraid of the day Friday the 13th?

Join the discussion

  • I’m not afraid of the day Friday the 13th. The number of 13 is my lucky. That’s really special number for many good things happening in my life. Maintaining positive thinking will help you success and happiness.

  • Thanks to Spotlight for this week’s fun topic. It is obvious that no one really believes in superstition, horoscopes, zodiac signs, but equally we pay attention to it for fun or more frequently to make fun of those who pretend to believe it. In Italy the most unfortunate date is the 17th and not the 13th as in the United States. The worst day is Friday the 17th, and the next of this day will be in the month of November. But we console ourselves by saying that in algebra the multiplication of two negatives makes a positive. I was born on a Friday and I don’t consider myself either unlucky or lucky. Of course I’d like to be better at it, but when I make a mistake, I can’t blame it on the 17th or Friday. A famous Italian playwright wrote: “Being superstitious is for ignorance, but not being so is bad luck”.

  • On Friday the 13th, a LOT of unlucky stuff happened to me : my bike’s chain broke, i missed the movie by 30 minutes and i didn’t eat anything from the afternoon to the next day

  • I read the program “Afraid of the Friday the 13th” to my girlfriend, she really like it. Thank you so much!

  • Affaierde from the 13th Friday is a bad thing. You can’t generalize some action that happened to some people in all of their lives because bad things can happen at any time.
    If superstitious people believe this information, it may make their lives very difficult

  • I don’t want to be afraid….but I preferi not to start a thing on Friday In my life important changes were happened on 17th of Manday or other days. The number 17 is luck for me.

  • I think that the Friday the 13th is not bad, which day of the year also is good and very beautiful . It is culture and superstitious of every country , I think that cause I don’t hate The Friday the 13th, I remembered that I caught some lucky on the 13th and Friday also , I’m Vietnamese

  • From my point of view bad things can happen everyday, not just friday day. l think bad things happened on friday was a coincidence.

  • I´m not afraid of Friday the 13th, I consider that ´s a normal day and anything bad han happen in any day of the year.

  • not really i think its justa a day like any other I think its more superstiton than anything

  • I don’t believe in these days, not even in Tuesdays 13, I think these day had bad reputation only for the movie, but for me, I don’t feel anything for this day, I don’t think it be a bad lucky day or something.

  • No, maybe that’s true, but if that’s real, don’t be afraid because it’s something inevitable, just like death, you can’t avoid death.

  • no, I don’t believe in that, the number 13 is just like any other, I think that the bad luck or the fear that this number generates was purely by chance that some things happened on that date.

  • No, I’m very forgetful, I forget everything, I remember that day until someone tells me, and that’s when it scares me, but if nobody remembers me, I don’t remember.

  • I believe in Friday the 13th of all the bad things that can happen to you, but I always try to stay positive and not think that bad things are going to happen to me.

  • not at all, for me it’s a normal day, I like to think that luck depends on the person and their disposition and their way of seeing the world

  • I’m not afraid of Friday the 13th, many myths have always been told, even in the movies but since I was a kid I’ve never been afraid of it, now when I’m older I see it as more marketing than anything else

  • Absolutely not, I like horror movies and everything related (conspiracies and superstitions). But a bad day can happen any day, it’s like the law of attraction, if you think negative about 13, bad things will probably happen to you

  • i think friday 13 is a sacry day for much people, but ourselves put the title to this day, the mind is strong all you believe sometime gonna be true, so if we change the mentality of this day, everything was different.

  • I’m not afraid, I don’t believe in Friday the thirteenth because that day nothing bad has happened to me yet, for me it’s a normal day like the other days.

  • When I realize after hours that it is Friday the thirteenth I am not afraid, but when I wake up and I know it is Friday the thirteenth I am afraid that something will happen to me.

  • Friday the 13th is not a day that falls within my beliefs. I don’t believe in that kind of thing; rather, I think people empower it by giving it too much importance.

  • That day doesn´t scare me, several days have gone by without something bad happening, i think people attract it with their negativity

  • I think it depends on each person, in my opinion I’m not afraid of it but I do know of some people to whom something happened that day.

  • no because it not truth and I don’t know why there so people scared and afraid from friday the 13th .. it’s just a normal day like the other days

  • NO because it’s not truth and I do not no there is some people afraid from this day it just like the other day lol..

  • I’am muslim and in my religion we haven’t be afraid of anythings or be a superstitious it’s Haram

  • thank spotlight for this articles. This is helpful for me to practice listening skill and it is very exciting. I think Friday the 13th is a secret that many people really understand. I heard it a lot but I have not believed it yet. It’s a spiritual matter anyway so I think it’s still better to take precautions

  • No, i’m not. Firt of all, i think that is a simple superstition ideas that can happen coincidently in a day or in an other. Then, since i am muslim, we have a look totaly different than christians People about the day friday, because in our relegion friday is the Best day in every week, it is a special day where muslims People are garthening to eat together with their families and friends, it is a day to do the best things and it is the prayer response day for all of muslims by a merciful and loving GOD.

  • I’m not afraid of Friday the 13th, but on the contrary cuz Friday is a special day for Muslims. In addition, we don’t have unlucky numbers or something like that in our Arabic countrys. When people think of something as bad or unlucky, they attract it, and it will happen to them. So, we shouldn’t put thoughts like that in our minds.

  • I’m not really afraid of Friday the 13th. Since I chose for my daughter to be born on Friday, April 13, I’m not superstitious. Even though I work in a hospital, I had not realized that there is no room 13

  • I Don’t think it is right to be afraid of any day because the days is your age and you don’t know when it will end so live your life and be hopeful because the live is very shortly.

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