Depending on who you ask, Friday the 13th has been freaking people out for the past 130 years or so — and not solely because of the movies by the same name that starred Jason Vorhees or his Mother. Some say the superstition goes as far back as the Middle Ages.
Regardless, even before it became synonymous with bad luck , some really bad things have happened over the centuries. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look back through history at some of the worst things that have happened on Friday the 13th and perhaps even solve the mystery as to why Friday the 13th is considered a bad date to begin with!
10. The Costa Concordia Capsizes
Perhaps the most recent and famous entry on this list, on Friday the 13th in January of 2012, the cruise ship Costa Concordia was sailing along the coast of Tuscany while passengers partied. Francesco Schettino, the captain of the ship, was out of his depth and the ship hit a coral reef.
The ship, which was just beginning it’s seven-day cruise, had over 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members, and initially impacted a rock on the reef (on the port side) at a point of over 25 feet below water. That rock tore a 160-foot gash into the ship and sheared two long strips of steel from the ship’s hull.
Apparently, it was later found on the seabed about 315 feet from the main island. The ship had a large boulder embedded in its hull, at the aft end of the impact gash. The captain was told by the head of the engine room a few minutes after impact that the hull had an irreparable tear of over 230 feet.
Water filling through that tear was submerging the generators and engines. Because the engines were drowning, the ship stopped and began to “shift position by only means of inertia,” which meant that it began to tip over. The captain jumped ship prematurely. He was later found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years in prison.
The crew was also found to be at fault, with one crew member telling people to return to their cabins about an hour and a half into the six-hour rescue, saying:
“We have solved the problems we had and invite everyone to return to their cabins.”
9. Alfred Hitchcock is Born…
Alfred Hitchcock, perhaps one of the most well known film directors ever, was born on Friday the 13th in August of 1899, in Leytonstone, England.He was the godfather of horror films, and helped bring credibility to the genre. The film Psycho, for example, completely changed the horror game as did his weekly television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Considering the Harvey Weinstein scandal, he really is lucky that he came before the age of social media. He was reportedly notorious for sexually harassing actresses in his movies. Apparently, he would threaten to blacklist them if they resisted his aggressive advances
It wouldn’t be surprising if his name comes up in the next few weeks again as yet another example of a Hollywood genius who also happens to be a sexual harasser. He was working on a script for a spy thriller called The Short Night at the time of his death but it was never finished. He died at the age of 80 on … April 29th.
8. A Daredevil’s Last Jump…
This happened a few decades before Friday the 13th became a thing. In November of 1829, a man decided to schedule what became his final leap on that date. Sam Patch was one of the first people in the United States to become known as a daredevil, or at least make a living from it — a 19th century version of Johnny Knoxville.
He was the child of a man who worked in the mills and was around 29 years old when he met his demise. He had previously successfully jumped off of a cliff into the Niagara Falls. It made him extremely well known both locally and nationally; his story was picked up by newspapers.
His final dive occurred on Friday the 13th and was a disaster from the jump (get it?). He arrived to the event “half drunk,” according to the book Sam Patch: The Famous Jumper. This jump was attended by about 10,000 people at the Genesee Falls, which is also in New York State.
There isn’t a lot of information as to what happened to Patch, besides a blurb written 50 years later in the New York Times: “[Patch] did not retain the position while descending or strike the water as he did on the former occasion.”
That sounds like his original jump was successful thanks to the way he hit the water, which is most likely a pencil dive of sorts, where as his fatal jump was more of a belly flop. Either way, alcohol probably played a bigger role in his death than the unlucky day ever could.
7. Cold War Crisis
Despite it’s name, the Cold War actually had a lot of heated moments. For one, the Korean War was essentially a proxy war fought by the US on one side — supporting South Korea — and the USSR on the other — supporting North Korea.
Another perfect example was when the Soviet Union shot down two Swedish military transport planes on a Friday the 13th in June of 1952. The Soviets scrambled two fighter jets and took down the two Swedish aircraft over international waters in the Baltic Sea. Of the eight people aboard, all perished either from the explosion or in the sea.
The situation almost caused the two superpowers to go to war, as the Swedes were part of NATO and a large ally of the United States. Only after 40 years did Sweden admit that the planes weren’t on a “routine training mission.” Both were equipped with British gear to spy on the USSR.
6. Kansas Flooded
From near wars to actual wars, to the birth and death of famous people, a lot of the horrors on this list were caused by human hands. This entry, however, came from Mother Nature. On Friday the 13th in July of 1951, torrential rains in northeastern Kansas caused a disaster of epic proportions. The rain began on July 9th and just kept coming down, reportedly:
“…bringing up to 16 inches (40 centimeters) of precipitation to the Kansas, Neosho, Verdigris and Marais Des Cygnes rivers. On that Friday the 13th, records were broken. In Topeka, the Kansas River rose to 40.8 feet (12.4 meters), which was 14.8 feet (4.5 m) above flood stage and 6 feet (1.8 m) higher than any flood ever measured to that date, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).”
The large city of Topeka, Kansas was completely “swamped.” There was up to eight feet of water engulfing the entire town and its surroundings. Up until that date, the Midwest had never encountered that amount of rainwater, at least according to the National Weather Service.
Almost 30 people died and over half a million were displaced. In today’s dollars, the rain ended up costing the government almost $7 billion dollars.
5. Buckingham Palace Bombed
Not many young people know that during World War II, Buckingham Palace was bombed by the German Air Force — known as the Luftwaffe. When people hear the term “blitz” these days they think of football or perhaps the song, “Ballroom Blitz.”
Blitz is actually a German word that means “Lightning” and was was the term used by the Germans during World War II in their plan to attack Britain. Similar to how the United States names their campaigns during war — “Shock and Awe” comes to mind — the Germans named their aerial campaign “The Blitz.”
They attempted to both lower the morale of the English and also take out some important industrial targets, towns and cities. Also known as the “Blitzkreig,” the attack was completely devastating and occurred in 1940 and 1941.
The Palace was first hit on the 8th of September in 1940, when a 50 kilogram “delay-action high explosive bomb landed harmlessly in the grounds.” A second delay-action bomb landed in the swimming pool at the northwestern part of the Palace and caused no damage.
It was roped off and detonated far from the Palace but still left a large crater and broke windows. The Luftwaffe then targeted for The Palace again. It suffered a direct hit on Friday the 13th around 11 a.m. during the second of three daylight raids on London.
A single German “raider” bombed the Palace with a “stick of five high explosive bombs.” Two of the bombs hit the “inner quadrangle” while a third struck the “Royal Chapel in the South Wing.” There were four workers present in that part of the Palace and all four were injured, with one dying.
Both King George IV and Queen Elizabeth were in the residence during the bombing drinking tea, but neither were injured. The bombing backfired on the Germans. The fact that the royal couple were present actually boosted morale in Britain.
4. The “Black Friday” Fires in Australia
The “Black Friday bush fires” in Australia, occurred on Friday the 13th of January of 1939. At the time, they were “among the worst natural bush fires in the world.” Over 70 people and around 4,942,000 acres of land was burned while several small towns were entirely roasted to the ground.
It was so bad that it changed how Australia managed forest and land. Almost 1,500 houses and nearly 100 sawmills were lost in the blaze. In the end, almost 4,000 buildings were lost as well. Reportedly almost three quarters of the state of Victoria was affected negatively by the fire.
3. The Knights Templar
If you’ve read any of Dan Brown’s books, namely The Da Vinci Code, you’d know that superstitions about Friday the 13th supposedly stem from the fact that the Knights Templar, who were thought to be the protectors of the Holy Grail, were wrongfully arrested on Friday, the 13th in October of 1307. The French king accused the order of horrible crimes against morality and religion. A letter sent to their leader began with the phrase:
“God is not pleased. We have enemies of the faith in the kingdom.”
There were accusations of extreme blasphemy. New recruits were said to be forced to spit on the cross, deny Christ and engage in indecent kissing. The brethren were accused of worshiping false idols as well. Homosexuality was said to be rampant.
Because of these salacious yet completely fabricated accusations, the Templars were mostly annihilated. It’s thought by some that Friday the 13th then became a cursed date.
2. Tupac Died
Tupac Shakur, one of the best rapper to ever live, passed away on Friday the 13th of September in 1996. Tupac was in Las Vegas to watch his friend, Mike Tyson, “fight” Bruce Seldon at the MGM Grand Casino and Event center.
Tupac had recently been anointed as a “Mob Piru Blood” gang member, just like the owner of his record label Suge Knight and a lot of the rest of Death Row Records as well —besides Snoop Doggy Dogg, as he was known at the time, who was a Crip out of Long Beach.
Reportedly, Tupac was shot in retaliation after he and his crew — including Knight— just jumped Orlando Anderson, a Southside Crip at the MGM. This was revenge; Anderson had “snatched” the Death Row Chain from one of Tupac’s crew members, who was also there that night.
Yet rumors say that Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs hired the Southside Crips for security when he and the members of his record label, Bad Boy Records, went out to California for shows. Puff had apparently put a $50,000 bounty on Death Row chains, which would mean that he could be at least indirectly responsible for what transpired that night.
Keffe D, Orlando Anderson’s uncle, claimed on the record that Puff Daddy had offered $1 million to the Crips to kill both Tupac and Suge Knight. So, after Tupac jumped Orlando Anderson at the MGM Grand, the Crips decided that it was the perfect situation to both retaliate for the “disrespect” and also claim that $1,000,000 prize.
When they came across ‘Pac and Suge in a rented BMW at a stoplight, they shot Tupac four times, collapsing his right lung. Doctors removed that lung in surgery and initially expected Tupac to survive.
However, Tupac kept attempting to get up to leave and ripped something in his chest. He eventually died of internal bleeding six or seven days after he arrived at the hospital.
1. The Last Supper
As this list has shown, there are conflicting explanations as to when and where the superstition of Friday the 13th arose. In The Da Vinci Code, the protagonist discover the meaning of the Holy Grail. Long story short, it’s believed that it’s a womb. Jesus supposedly had a child with Mary Magdalene.
Her uterus was the Grail as it contained the blood of Chris; the Grail are the descendants of Christ. Yet, it didn’t touch on the Last Supper as the possible source of the Friday the 13th superstition. According to Wikipedia, it’s thought that the superstition originated in the Middle Ages thanks to the fact that there were 13 people present “in the Upper Room of the 13th Maundy Thursday, [aka] the night before [Jesus’] death on Good Friday.”