Friday the 13th superstitions: An ‘illusion that we’re able to control things’

Friday the 13th is widely known as a haunting superstition for some, but it’s simply just another day on the calendar for others.

It just so happens that the latest edition of the gloomy day and number combination comes amid one of the darkest years in recent memory, dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“2020? It’s been quite ominous this year I would say so,” one Winnipegger told Global News during his lunch break on Friday.

Steve Joordens, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto says superstitions — big or small — are unavoidable.

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“I don’t think there’s anyone among us who hasn’t been watching some sports game and we step out of the room, our team scores and suddenly we’re like ‘OK, we have to stay out of the room!’” Joordens explained.

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“It’s often based around people wanting to have a feeling of control for things they really have no control over.”

Friday the 13th itself originated from time-worn tales of history portraying 13 as an unlucky number, and whenever it rolls around during the year some people are affected more than others.

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“I’m not very superstitious about Friday the 13th, it’s just a normal date,” said Derwood Lepense while waiting for the bus on Portage Avenue.

“I haven’t had any reason to have worries or anything so things seem to be just fine!” said Dave, another Winnipegger enjoying a walk downtown.

Click to play video 'Everyday Joe: Friday the 13th' Everyday Joe: Friday the 13th

Everyday Joe: Friday the 13th – Dec 13, 2019

Professor Joordens researches behaviors around many things, with superstitions being a branch of his research. He describes the sense of power and control that come from superstitions as “very good for mental health.”

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“To some extent, we can control the future, but to a large extent, we can’t. And that’s where superstitions edge in there. They give us an illusion that we’re able to control things that physically, we probably have no ability to control.”

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And while many superstitions appear to based around sports, the mysterious superstition surrounding Friday the 13th certainly isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

“Very often if we have a reason to suppose something –like it’s Friday the 13th today — anything negative that happens today, we will attribute to Friday the 13th. It’s like we have a pre-built explanation for everything bad that happens to us today,” says Joordens.

“A lot of them are relatively harmless and in some cases, they make our life more fun just by holding on to these things and pretending we can control things that we can’t.”

Click to play video 'What’s behind the urban folklore surrounding Friday the 13th' What’s behind the urban folklore surrounding Friday the 13th

What’s behind the urban folklore surrounding Friday the 13th

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