Can Friggatriskaidekaphobia be Justified?


It is a well known fact that Friday the 13th is an unlucky date. Every bad thing that happens on this date is naturally attributed to this fact. The fear is so ingrained that a term has also been coined to describe the fear of Friday the 13th – friggatriskaidekaphobia (good thing that many people stay away from pubs on this date, else imagine saying it out loud when drunk!)

13 of the worst tragedies on Friday The 13th

And if you look back in time, history is littered with incidents where crazy (often creepy) tragedies have taken place on this fateful day. In keeping with the theme of this black day on the calendar, here we look back on 13 of the worst global tragedies to have occurred on this “fateful” day.

1. Plane crash in the Andes


A Chilean Air Force plane crashed in the Andes on Friday 13, October 1972 but there were a number of survivors from the incident. However, they had to fend for themselves over the next 70 days because the site of the crash in the Andes was not easily accessible. In order to do so, they took the very tough decision of eating their dead co-passengers. The plane was a chartered flight of the Old Christian Catholic School in Montevideo and was on its way to face a Santiago team, carrying the players and a group of supporters.

2. Rape and murder of Kitty Genovese


It was March 13, 1964 when 28-year-old Kitty Genovese was raped and stabbed to death outside her apartment building in Kew Gardens, Queens. The perpetrator of this gruesome crime was a Queens native by the name of Winston Moseley. This murder gained infamy in American history not only because of the heinousness of the crime but also – as per an article in the New York Times – because there were as many as 37 witnesses at the crime scene. However, not one of them had come forward to provide her with any kind of assistance and this was later put down to a psychological phenomenon called “The Bystander Effect.”

3. The birthday of Alfred Hitchcock


I guess most will wonder how this falls under the category of a “global tragedy” but let me make things very clear – it is not! The only reason this has been brought up is to show how there are some “special” people associated with this day. Dubbed the “Master of Suspense” it is only fitting that the man would be born on August 13th, 1899 which – you guessed it right – was a Friday! The infamous director who gave us classic psychological thrillers such as “Vertigo” and “Psycho” had a dark side to his character, nevertheless (probably not a major surprise). While filming “The Bird” he made his crew hurl live birds at actress Tippi Hedren. The cuts and scratches along with the appearance of raw terror on her face were all real in that scene!

4. The death of Tupac


Friday the 13th, September 1966. This was the day when rapper Tupac succumbed to his injuries after being shot fatally in a drive-by shooting six days earlier. He was in Los Angeles at that time, attending a boxing match with Suge Knight for company. The front page of the Daily News carried the news on the following day: “Rap Requiem: Tupac Shakur dies of gunshot wounds.”

5. Capsizing of the Costa Concordia cruise ship

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January 13, 2012. Another Friday and another tragedy of serious proportions. The Costa Concordia cruise ship capsized off the western coast of Italy and resulted in the tragic death of as many as 30 people. The ship ran aground and this led to a massive 160-foot (50-meter) gap to open up in the hull through which water gushed in. As many as 4200 people are believed to have been evacuated, as per the estimates of the Italian Coast Guard officials.

6. Bombing on the Buckingham Palace, England

King and Queen at Buckingham Palace after it had been bombed

This may sound like an improbable thing to ever happen but it did and there was no element of surprise about the date – September 13, 1940, a Friday! King George VI and Queen Elizabeth had a near brush with death when five bombs were dropped on the home of the Royal family as part of Hitler’s Blitz propaganda during World War II. Luckily, they were out for tea in the garden. A member of the Royal staff was killed while the chapel was destroyed.

7. Nathan Bedford Forrest, leader of the KKK, was born


While many people are born on Friday the 13th, not many of them go on to become such macabre personalities in society and, indeed, as part of history ! Nathan Bedford Forrest, leader of the dreaded Ku Klux Klan, was born on Friday, July 13, 1821. A ruthless Confederate general during the Civil War, he rose to prominence with the establishment of the KKK sometime during the period of late 1866 to early 1867 where he was recognized as the Grand Wizard. The third Klan of the Ku Klux Klan is still in existence, fighting for the “purification” of American society to a “white-dominated” race.

8. Collapse of an apartment building in New York


Daz Baxter was a resident of New York who was so freaked out by “Friday the 13th” that he decided it would be safer in his bed at the apartment than anywhere out on the streets. However, in a cruel twist of fate, Baxter met an untimely demise after the floor of his apartment block collapsed. The date? August 13, 1976, Friday!

9. 1970 Bhola Cyclone


Close to half a million people were killed in a tragic natural calamity as floods and strong winds levelled out entire villages during the 1970 Bhola Cyclone in Bangladesh. Most of the victims were asleep when one of the worst natural disasters ever in world history struck this beautiful country in the Asian subcontinent. Although the cyclone made landfall on the night of the 12th, it was November 13 that witnessed maximum damage and destruction amidst the darkness of the night.

10. Hurricane Charley strikes USA


Friday the 13th, August 2003 turned out to be one of the unluckiest days in the history of Charles County, Florida. What had been a simple tropical depression only a few days back turned into a major Category 4 storm and ripped through thousands of homes. 9 people were reported dead as a result of this natural tragedy.

11. Stock market crash on Black Friday

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October 13, 1989. A Friday that came to be known as “Black Friday” as the US stock market suffered a one-of-a-kind crash. This was caused by the breakdown in an airline buyout deal.

12. Lightning strikes boy on Friday the 13th at 13:13


A 13-year-old boy in Lowestoft, England was struck by lightning at an airshow on Friday the 13th of August 2010. Paramedics who came to his treatment noticed that the time was 13:13. Talk about the number 13 being unlucky! The good news is that the boy managed to survive and made a speedy recovery.

13. Black Friday fire strikes Australia


Regarded as one of the worst natural bushfires to ever occur in the world, 20,000 kilometers of forest land in Victoria, Australia went up in flames on January 13, 1939 which happened to be a Friday. 71 people were reported dead and resulted in the complete destruction of a number of towns. This was a event that brought about major changes in forest management.

Does this fear hold any justification?

While there have been a number of such crazy incidents down the years on Friday the 13th, there have similarly been a number of such days that have passed by without any incident.

And as the latest instalment of Friday the 13th passes the world by without any major incident it is probably time to take a stand! Is it justified for people to sit back at home on Friday the 13th, thinking that they will probably suffer a broken leg or some other form of accident by stepping outside? (The list of incidents suggests that this is not always true!)

Or should you just concentrate on the “Friday” bit and thank God that the time to party for the week is finally here?



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