Love Or Hate It, Most People Have An Opinion About Friday The 13th

By Pia Hallenberg
The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Why are so many people superstitious about Friday the 13th? This article from The Spokesman-Review takes a look at a few theories .

The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.

It’s Friday the 13th — lock your doors and count your cats.

If you’re superstitious, today is not a good day.

But does anybody really know why?

Actually, the number 13 is surrounded by so much superstition that hotels often skip the 13th floor and instead count 12, 14, 15 and up.

The Historic Davenport Hotel doesn’t have a 13th floor, nor do the much newer Davenport Towers, or the Davenport Grand Hotel, though all of them are taller than that.

Matt Jensen, director of communication and marketing at the Davenport Hotel Collection, said he’s been in the hotel business for 30 years, but has yet to work at a hotel with a floor 13.

So how does he explain the Table 13 restaurant at the Davenport Grand Hotel?

Simple: Walt Worthy, who owns the Davenport Hotels, loves the number 13 and always asks for table 13 at restaurants.

“That’s why the restaurant got its name,” Jensen said.

The Paulsen Building also skips floor No. 13.

Vincent Bozzi, who leases the penthouse apartment atop the Paulsen Building, said that’s probably very typical for a tall building that’s nearly a century old.

Bozzi said the Paulsen penthouse residence is on what’s labeled the 17th floor, but it’s technically the 16th floor.

“So for expediency’s sake, we’ll just go along with the story that we are the 17th floor,” Bozzi said. “I like the number 7 anyway.”

There are many theories about why buildings avoid a 13th floor; one is especially grisly.

Tom McArthur, who worked at the Historic Davenport for a decade when the hotel first reopened, said the first skyscrapers only reached the 12th floor because that’s as high as it was possible to maintain water pressure in the early 1900s.

That made the roof of a building the 13th floor.

“During the stock crash in 1929, people who lost everything jumped off the roof of buildings,” McArthur said. “That’s why it became bad luck to build something with a 13th floor.”

(Although the Washington Post looked into the suicide statistics around the stock market crash of 1929 and found that the alleged mass suicides never happened.)

Regardless, McArthur said when he gave tours of the Historic Davenport Hotel, he told guests a different explanation.

“I told them there was no No. 13 on the elevator, because the 13th floor is where the ghosts live and they don’t need the elevator,” McArthur said.

Other tall Spokane buildings, like the Bank of America building and the INHS building, do have a 13th floor, so this is by no means a universal rule.

At Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital, there are very few patient rooms with the number 13.

When first asked, Sacred Heart communication specialist Jennifer Semenza was skeptical.

“We are a completely modern and outstanding medical facility — I don’t think we are superstitious,” she said, but she checked it out.

She was surprised when she reported back that patient rooms on most floors do skip 13 and instead count 411, 412 and then 414.

“The only exception is the ninth floor, which has a room 913 but not a room 911,” Semenza said. “They omitted room 911 because people calling in ended up calling 9-1-1 by mistake.”

She said she’s not sure why 13 was omitted, but it was a decision made a long time ago when the hospital was being built.
Semenza said she doesn’t believe people avoid surgery on the 13th.

(Conversely, “women clamor to schedule their C-section on Leap Day,” she said.)

There are countless explanations for how 13 got its bad reputation and why Friday the 13th is considered extra unlucky.

National Geographic magazine explored superstition around Friday the 13th in a series of articles and found that among some Christians, Friday is considered unlucky because it’s believed to be the weekday Jesus was crucified, and also the day of the week when Eve tempted Adam with that famous apple.

Combine that with Judas being the last apostle to sit down at the Last Supper with Jesus — making it a total of 13 people at the table — and there’s one reason why Friday the 13th is considered a double whammy of bad luck.

In Western Europe, some still believe that if you seat 13 for dinner, one will die before the end of the year.

And it’s certainly not everyone who associates Friday the 13th with bad luck.

David Workman from the Idaho Lottery said lottery sales spike on Friday the 13th.

“Overall, Idaho Lottery sales are 21 percent higher on Friday the 13th,” Workman wrote in an email. “And Powerball sales show an increase of 27.5 percent on a Friday the 13th.”

Statistically speaking, that makes it a lot tougher to win unless, of course, 13 is your lucky number.

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