Friday the 13th is synonymous with bad luck and superstitions — so much so that some people flat-out refuse to fly, make business deals or get married on this fateful day.
As many as 21 million people in the United States are fearful of Friday the 13th, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C., which estimates that $800 million to $900 million is lost in business every Friday the 13th because of fears of the doomed day. [Top 10 Phobias]
But is there really a reason to be so apprehensive of a day that’s technically just like any other? Of course not, scientists say. You can pick out any date on the calendar or any day in history and find some weird stuff that’s happened. For fun, we’ve rounded up 13 events — some tragic, some just plain strange — that happened on a Friday the 13th:
1. Oct. 13, 1307 – Officers of King Philip IV of France raided the homes of the Knights Templar, who were warrior monks during the Crusades, imprisoning several thousand men on charges of illegal activities. None of these charges were proven, but hundreds suffered excruciating torture intended to force confessions, and more than a hundred died, according to “Tales of the Knights Templar” (Warner Books, 1995).
2. Aug. 13, 1521– Conquistador Hernán Cortés captured Cuauhtémoc, the ruler of Tenochtitlán, claiming the city for Spain and marking the end of the Aztec Empire. Cortés appointed himself the new ruler and renamed it Mexico City, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
3. Nov. 13, 1789 – Benjamin Franklin wrote “Everything appears to promise that it will last; but in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes,” according to U.S. government documents.
4. Sept. 13, 1940 – Five German bombs hit Buckingham Palace and destroyed the Palace Chapel, as part of Hitler’s strategic “Blitz” bombing campaign, according to reports from U.K. newspaper The Guardian.
5. June 13, 1952 – A Swedish military DC-3 plane carrying a crew of eight disappeared over international water in the Baltic Sea. This became known as the “Catalina affair” because one of two Catalina rescue planes sent to search for the plane was attacked by Soviet forces. In 1991, the Soviet air force admitted that it had shot down the DC-3 as well, according to the BBC.
6. July 13, 1956 – The United States and Britain turned down Indian and Yugoslavian pleas to stop atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, according to The New York Times.
7. Nov. 13, 1970 – A huge South Asian storm killed an estimated 300,000 people in Chittagong, Bangladesh, and create floods that killed as many as 1 million in the Ganges delta.
8. June 13, 1986 – The Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley, were born.
9. Jan. 13, 1989 – The “Friday the 13th virus” infected hundreds of IBM computers across Great Britain, wiping out program files and causing considerable anxiety at a time when large-scale computer viruses were a relatively new threat.
10. Oct. 13, 1989 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average underwent the second largest drop it had ever experienced at that time. Nicknamed the Friday-the-13th mini-crash, the Dow dropped 190.58 points that day. Today, that drop doesn’t even make the top 10 list of largest drops.
11. March 13, 2009 – “SAW – The Ride” premiered at Thorpe Park amusement park in England, only to be temporarily shut down due to “minor teething problems” according to UK news reports.
12. Aug. 13, 1999 – The day would have been Alfred Hitchcock’s 100th birthday.
13. Sept. 13, 2013 – The planned date of the thirteenth installment of the Friday the 13th horror film series, which revolves around hockey mask-wearing Jason Voorhees.