Friday the 13th

Good or bad?  The Academics decide
Rahman Mohamed

According to the Gregorian calendar, used internationally, the 13th day of two months falls on a Friday.  2017: January, Friday the 13th and October, Friday the 13th.  Legend has it that Friday the 13th is considered unlucky.  The fact: with varying results, Friday the 13th has has been proven to be both lucky and unlucky in studies by academics (aka people who are just as sane as you or I but “just a bit smarter”).

According to academics Friday the 13th is considered unlucky based on Christian beliefs.  Good Friday was the day Jesus was crucified.  According to a study led by Dr. Scanlon, published in BMJ, a medical journal based in UK, although Romans viewed 13 as an unlucky number, “a symbol of death, destruction and misfortune”, being unlucky is also associated with Christianity – the 12 Apostles who sat with Jesus during his last supper; the 13th is considered unlucky.

In Canada and other parts of the world Fridays are considered auspicious by many including Muslims, Friday being the holiest day of the week in Islam.  Some say that Friday the 13th is better than a regular Friday.

Unfortunately/fortunately, studies of health, travel, finance, and consumers have found some correlation with Friday the 13th.

According to “Is Friday the 13th bad for your health?” by Dr. Scalon in BMJ (Vol. 207, December 1993) analysis of traffic on major roads and weather for Fridays over 3 years it was found that fewer people drove on Friday the 13th.  They suggest people believe it to be unlucky so they don’t drive.  On the other hand, not driving doesn’t seem to stop Brits from shopping on Friday the 13th.  According to statistics there were more shoppers on Friday the 13th; although the Brits stayed off the roads they didn’t stay in their homes.

In terms of health Dr. Scalon states that there was no significant change in emergency room admissions on Friday the 13th compared to other Fridays.  “Traffic Deaths and Superstition on Friday the 13th” by Simo Näyhä, published in Am J Psychiatry (2002; 159), according to the number of daily deaths (1971-1997) in Finland more women die on Friday the 13th compared to other Fridays; men’s deaths don’t change.  Although the majority of these deaths were attributed to superstition it was found that the death of women related to traffic was higher by 63% of Friday the 13th.

Financially, the Friday the 13th effect is widely debated.  According to Brian M Lucey, School of Business Studies, Trinity College Dublin 2 Ireland in “Friday the 13th: International Evidence” (27 June 2000), there is evidence that returns on Friday the 13th vary from returns on other Fridays.  Looking at the “daily Thursday close to Friday close returns on the FTSE World Indices from January 1988 to May 2000, for 19 countries” 698 Fridays were examined, 23 of them Friday the 13th.  With the exception of South Africa, Friday the 13th was found to be a Friday that resulted higher returns; South Africa returns average -740% compared to a regular Friday.  Statistically it was likely for “returns on Friday 13th to be substantially greater than those on other Fridays” in 11 of 19 countries including USA, Japan and UK based on a probability of 10%.  In the UK returns average a 1067% higher on Friday the 13th, a bit lower than Japan, averaging a 3100% higher returns.  In USA returns rise only 83.3%.  Canada falls in between, rising an average of 150%.

They conclude that “internationally almost without exception, and in many cases statistically significantly, there is a Friday the 13th anomaly. Returns on that day are higher than returns on other Fridays. Why this should be so is unclear.”

So going to the hospital on Friday the 13th hasn’t been found more likely than on any other Friday, but it has been found that even though the Brits don’t drive on Friday the 13th because they’re likely to have more money in their hands.


Anticipating good luck Nova’s Rays has chosen to publish it’s first article of this calendar year on the 13th day of the 13th month of 2016 (Friday 13 January 2017).

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