How Christianity Contributes to Friday the 13th Superstitions and Why You Don’t Have to be Afraid

This ancient mosaic depicts the Last Supper, which contributed to the superstition surrounding the number 13. There were that many guests, the last being Judas Iscariot, shown at the mosaic’s bottom receiving the bread that Jesus dipped (John 13:18-30). | Public Domain

The Bible says born-again faithful “have not been given a spirit of fear,” but Christianity has contributed to the origins of triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13) and paraskevidekatriaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th).

These disorders affect perhaps as much as 10% of the U.S. population, according to the late Donald Dorsey, a clinical psychologist and founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina. He long was known as an expert on beliefs linked to the number and date.

Dorsey estimated several hundred million dollars a year are lost due to people avoiding travel, business deals, and other activity on Friday the 13th. However, a Dutch study found a silver lining in that cloud: 3% fewer accidents, thefts and fires on that date owing to reduced outings by the suspicious.

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“Fears can be irrational, based on things we tell ourselves about a situation,” Ken Haney, a licensed professional counselor and ordained Southern Baptist pastor, told The Christian Post. “Even though they are irrational, they feel as real as if something is legitimately threatening us. Our bodies respond, adrenalin kicks in, and it’s flight, fight or freeze.”

The two phobias appear to have their origins in the Western world’s Middle Ages. The Last Supper had 13 guests, the last Judas Iscariot, who slipped out and betrayed Christ to the chief priests. (An old superstition later held if 13 ate together, one would die soon.) The meal supposedly took place on the 13th of Nisan in the Jewish calendar.

Appropriately, Scripture tells the story of the Last Supper starting in John 13:18, with Jesus saying, “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’”

The Bible champions 12, regarded as symbolic of perfection and authority and used 187 times in Scripture. Some examples are the 12 tribes of Israel, spies sent into the Promised Land and gates to the New Jerusalem. One off means misalignment with God’s desires, such as six instead of seven (i.e., “The number of a man … is 666,” Revelation 13:18).

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Kyle Huckins

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