Friday 13th, Unlucky or not?

This last Friday in September was of course blessed with being Friday the 13th of September. Like many it automatically bought up the thought of being unlucky. As it did in the mind of Lamo, who comes from the British way of thinking associating this day to bad luck through one particular historical story.

He explained to Harlin that here the most common belief for why Friday the 13th is considered to have this superstitious link to bad luck was because of the Knights Templar. From humble soldiers they had risen to hold a lot of power throughout a large part of the world especially Europe.

These brave Knights were widely believed to be protecting the Holy Grail, (The cup that Jesus drank from), at the fateful last supper as well as many other holy objects. They quickly rose to become a bank of sorts to the European Kings. However it was when France lost their War with England, King Philip IV became heavily indebted to our banker Knights.

In 1306, rather than be upstanding to pay back these loans, King Philip of France, with the consent of the Pope and several other country leaders, staged a coordinated attack on the Knights on October Friday 13th. Capturing the vast majority, who were then charged with Satanism, (Weird considering that were protecting the religious relics of Christ!), tortured, then to round their day off, executed.

Thus marking this particular day as a day of evil doings. Now through the ages it has become watered down to being unlucky, rather than evil. Although if you were a Knight Templar, well you would likely be thinking something considerably different as you drew your last painful breath!

It does raise one question though, in that why is it not just Friday 13th of October that is considered to be the bad one? What have all the other months that have these odd dated Friday’s ever done to anyone in the past?

Yet it is this power of these olden documented times within human history which have slowly given 13 such a bad name in today’s society.

Let us venture into another of these death creating legends around this oddly black, dark number. Others trace the infamy of the number 13 back to ancient Norse culture. In Norse mythology, the beloved hero Balder, (God of light, joy purity and the summer sun along with being the son of Odin no less!), was killed at a banquet by the mischievous god Loki. He crashed the original party of twelve, bringing the group to 13.

This of course is not a unique dinner party that went horribly wrong. For many of course we have the better known Christian version of this in what was, “The Last Supper”Balder

We have Jesus with eleven disciples having a lovely meal together one evening. Food, wine flowing freely with great banter, stories being told. When that nasty Roman spy disciple Judas turns up to the festivities. He had a very different agenda altogether when it came down the desert he was after as it was not Ice cream that’s for sure. He was there to serve Jesus up to his friends the Roman’s for a cash reward, not the Cash Converters we know today either. Thanks to this thirteenth man at the group supper, Jesus was located, handed over to the Romans, were they set about him with carpentry tools in the most grotesque manner. Nails hammered through his hands and feet to a huge wooden cross. Left outside to die a very slow death.

This it was, as with the Norse legend with Loki, that having 13 people at a dinner was very unlucky for the host.

Another story that adds to this Friday the 13th being unlucky in Lamo’s country is both Friday and the number 13 were once closely associated with capital punishment. You’d go to court for having had it away from a shop with a loaf of bread where the Judge would then convict you as guilty. Uttering that famous line, “You will be taken henceforth to the Gallows where you will be hung from the neck until you are quite dead.” At which point you would gulp, whilst you still could, at the thought of it.

Within British tradition, Friday was the conventional day for public hangings, and there were supposedly 13 steps leading up to the hangman’s noose. Worse still the noose itself had a whole 13 loops in it, to make sure that when you dropped through the trap door it would snap your neck like a twig. (You know just to make sure you were quite dead!)

Moving forward to one of the most historical events the world ever paid witness to on this subject, if we were to ask NASA and the three astronauts of the Apollo 13 space flight, they would definitely cite the 13th as an awfully unlucky day. BUT it was actually a Monday not a Friday back then in April 1970 when the oxygen tank exploded. It was Friday 17th that they splashed down safely in the Pacific ocean. Yet this becomes engrained into the psyche of people around the world because of the huge TV audience watching events unfold, some how a legend of 13 being hugely unlucky is strengthened by another single moment in human history.

Not to scare those of you who may fall into this final thought around the number 13 but we’ll tell you anyway. There is an old superstition that says if you have thirteen letters in your name, you are bound to be cursed. Silly? Well it becomes slightly more convincing when you consider that a number of notorious murder’s names have exactly this JackTheRipper  number in. Charles Manson, Jack The Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy along with Albert De Salvo. Let us not forget that Adolf Hitler was baptised, wait for it, Adolfus Hitler, (Thirteen letters), we all know about this particular disturbed individual.


We may joke about this number and the effect it has come to have on the people of the world. So much so that there are huge contingencies made to avoid this number. Here in the following text are a few you may or may not be aware of but to us they show how powerful this number has truly come to affect modern society.

  1. Many large hotels do not have a floor thirteen for the huge impact it may have on people staying there. As every single creak they hear as they lay awake in the dark of night is the prelude to the building collapsing, taking them with it.
  2. Plane companies remove the row thirteen seats from their aeroplanes as passengers feel that the plane is going to crash with them dying a horrible death.
  3. In Ireland in 2013 all new cars registered were given the numbers 131 and 132 in the number plates. As people would not buy them for fear of death by burning car wreck if it had 13 in it!
  4. In the US it is estimated that between 17 – 21 million people won’t even leave their house on this particular day, that is some serious reaction to something that actually has no tangible evidence to the contrary!

Yet it has become such a powerful belief within people today it affects their lives quite dramatically as we can see from just this short list. Think about it, it is just a number nothing more, yet look the extremes it drives the modern human race to now!

Did you know?

Triskaidekaphobia, is the fear of the number 13!
Paraskevidekatriaphobia, is the actual fear of the day, Friday the 13th!


Now before we all start crying like depressed cats for all this fear and loathing of this simple number 13 lets now remember, like all things, there are two sides to every story or coin.

Harlin then explained that within the Sikh beliefs our friend thirteen is not considered unlucky at all but actually a very positive number. She told Lamo the following story which her mum had passed down to her about Guru Nanak who like many understood in the Punjabi language, “Tera”, means number 13, and “Tera” also means ‘yours’, that is ‘I am Yours, O Lord.

Jai Ram, Guru Nanak’s brother-in-law was serving as dewan (steward) to the governor, Nawab Daulat Khan Lodhi of Sultanpur. It is said that both Jai Ram and Rai Bular were of the opinion that Guru Nanak was a saint ill-treated by his father; and thus Jai Ram promised to find a job for him in Sultanpur.

Guru Nanak’s sister was deeply devoted to her younger brother. On their annual visit to Talwandi, when she noticed her father’s impatience at her brother’s indifference towards worldly activities, she decided to take him to Sultanpur. Her father gave his consent hoping he would choose a good profession.

GuruNanak Jai Ram got the Guru the post of a store-keeper of Nawab’s state granary where the grain was collected as a part of land revenue and later sold. The Guru carried out the duties of the store-keeper very efficiently. The minstrel Mardana subsequently joined the Guru and other friends too followed. Guru Nanak introduced them to the Khan, who provided them suitable jobs in his administration. Every night there was Shabad-Kirtan (singing divine hymns).

One day he was weighing provisions and was counting each weighing as ‘one, two, three… ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen’. When he reached the number thirteen (13)- ‘Tera’ (in Punjabi language Tera means number 13, and Tera also means ‘yours’, that is ‘I am Yours, O Lord’), he went into meditation.

Guru Nanak went on weighing by saying, “Tera, tera, tera…” The customers were happy to receive the extra provisions and did not know how to carry so many goods. They could not understand the bounties of the Lord.

Ultimately the situation reached Nawab Daulat Khan when a charge was levied against the Guru that he was recklessly giving away grain. The Nawab ordered an inquiry which was conducted very carefully. The Guru’s detractors were surprised when the stores were found full. In fact, the accounts showed an extra surplus in favour of Guru Nanak.

Here we see the value that is placed on the number 13 is religiously a sign of great good  rather than that of the English identifying it as a bad sign. This though isn’t the only positive view of our friend Mr Thirteen.

We at Harlam believe in Angel Numbers. In brief, is we take this odd number 13 that so many seem to want to tip toe around, it actually has the following meaning;

The Angel is informing you that you have what it takes to manifest your desires but this is only achieved when you remain positive in your thoughts.

You could say there was an ambiguous tone to this about negative thoughts not allowing you to achieve your goals. Yet this is not unlucky or evil but a positive drive to encourage you to better things. For us at Harlam, this is a good sign arising from the encounter of this oddly judged number.

Ironically, going back to our poor fiends the Knights Templar, France in the modern age consider Friday the 13th to be a lucky day. (Hmm wonder where that tradition may have come from and at whose expense?) As we are saying here two sides to every bloodied coin. Their National lottery actual organise a very special draw if it is a Friday 13th as many in that Country choose it to make bets, for it is a lucky day!

Let us now draw to our rather powerful friends in the World today, the Chinese. With their seat at the World table, along with their not unwieldly population of around 2 billion, we must take serious thought to why it is considered a very lucky number there. Not tarnished with, death, blood, torture and general mishap as the western world see it.

Here the digit 1 when it is in the position of tens sounds like the word, “definite” (shi) in Manderian as well as Cantonese. Add to this that the digit 3 sounds like “living” or “birth”, when they are added together becomes pronounced as “shisan” meaning “definitely vibrant”. Making it as far from unlucky as you can possibly get.

Finally lets ask a modern idol of the western world what they think to the concept of it being lucky or unlucky. If you were to ask Taylor Swift about this number she would sing to you how incredibly lucky it is! She was born on December 13th, (Although this was a Wednesday not that it matters.), TaylorSwift  But she became a teenager turning 13 on December Friday 13th 2002. Her first self titled album, “Taylor Swift”, went gold in 13 weeks. If that was not enough 13’s for this young lass, her first song had, yes you guessed it, a 13 second intro! In her life 13 has come to represent great fortune even though she lives in the western world that seems plagued to see it as an omen. Again just showing how it is a persons perspective, nothing more, sets how their personal feelings are around how they see this number and particular day.


Our conclusion starts with the premise that nothing can be opposites of it own self. We know that a simple number cannot be both good AND bad all at the same time, it can only exist as one or the other. Here though, this is only a number at the end of the day, one in a long series of others created for the sole purpose of quantifying other things. How does something like this then come to represent such extremes, good and bad luck to different people around our world?

For us it becomes more about the culture you have been exposed to growing up that shapes your belief to something as simple as a number which slowly defines how many will live their lives. How you react to an inanimate number becomes so powerful based on your personal experience from society and those around you.

People learn this thinking at a young age that 13, whether the number or Friday the 13th, is either lucky or unlucky which then becomes ingrained, almost rigid within their minds as they age, yet there is not real rational for it. Just stories, analogies one way or the other which become part of the lifetime psyche. Yet it does so for all those around them are hammering this one sided view into them over time without them ever giving it rational thought.

The evidence isn’t hard to come by, of course for either, especially those who think it unlucky but worse it then becomes a self perpetuating belief . If you are involved in an accident one Friday the 13th, lose your wallet, or even spill your coffee, well then your mind will strengthen the stories you’ve heard with the bad luck you had that day.

But if you stop to think about it, bad things, big and small, happen all the time. If you’re looking for bad luck on Friday the 13th, you’ll probably going find it. But you pay it no real significance on all those other days of they year because there is no stigmata attached to it.

It is purely a cultural thing, as Lamo and Harlin have seen from growing up in cultures that are continents apart. For those in the western world that allow it to stall or creative negativity in their life, maybe they should take from our post to see how actually it is not the all powerful evil number. Applied with the right historical thinking, how the Chinese show that it is a hugely lucky sign, or the Sikh’s Guru Nanak. Even if we take from the Knights Templar and King Philip IV, even here it is only your perspective that sets your belief for exactly the same experience. In the final analysis, it as when all has been said and done, just a number.


(c) Harlin & Lamo The Lion 2019


How do you see the number 13, lucky, unlucky or the infamous day Friday 13th? Are there any folklore stories you can share with us? We would love to hear from you?

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