Full Moon on Friday the 13th – Gee, What Crazy Thing Could Happen?

by on September 12, 2019 · 2 comments

in San Diego

Today is Friday the 13th – and hey, there’s also a full moon. So, a full moon on Friday the 13th – what crazy thing could happen?

Let’s take a look – first at the moon. For us on the West Coast, the full moon will be around 9:30 p.m. (okay – 09:33 pm (PDT)) on Friday. According to moon gazers:

September’s Full Moon was called the Full Corn Moon or Harvest Moon by the early North American Farmers. The term “Harvest Moon” refers to the Full Moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal Equinox. The Full Moon closes to this Equinox rises about 20 minutes later each night as apposed to the rest of the year when the moon rises around 50 minutes later each night.

In the northern hemisphere, the Full Harvest Moon rises very soon after sunset, providing plenty of bright light for farmers harvesting their summer crops. September’s full moon is so well-known for its luminosity and brilliance that certain Native American tribes even named it the Big Moon. The Full Harvest Moon holds major cultural significance in many different communities, who spend this full moon not just celebrating the fall harvest, but also the moon itself. From Moongiant.com

Also this:

…  unlike that stunningly bright supermoon that starred in so many great photos back in February, this one will appear 14 percent smaller than that, leading some to call it a micro moon. That’s because it’s nearly at apogee, the Farmers’ Almanac reports. Apogee is the point in the moon’s orbit where it’s at its greatest distance from Earth, 252,100 miles away

The full moon, the full moon …, doesn’t the full moon make some people crazy? I have friends who’ve been in the medical profession, and they swear there’s more chaos and craziness in emergency rooms on a full moon. Let’s check the Farmers’ Almanac, what do they say? Jamie McCloud at the Almanac has our attention:

“Must be a full Moon …” is a common utterance whenever things start to go a little haywire. The idea that a full Moon can drive people mad is an old one. Even the word “lunatic,” and its relatives “loon” and “loony,” derive from the Latin word “luna,” meaning “Moon.”

Urban legends abound on the subject of things going haywire around the time of the full Moon. According to contemporary lore, emergency rooms and veterinary offices are busier when the Moon is full; suicide, arson, and violent crime rates increase, patients in psychiatric hospitals act out more, and there are more traffic accidents. Others even attribute medical occurrences, such as women going into labor, epileptic seizures, and sleepwalking to the full Moon. But is it true?

Do Full Moons Really Affect Our Behavior?

People who believe that Moon phases affect human behavior point out that the human body is about 60% water. If the phase of the Moon can affect ocean tides, and even cause a bulge in the Earth’s crust, surely it would exert an effect of human beings, they reason.

And, of course, one of the most popular features in the Farmers’ Almanac is our Best Days calendar, which recommends specific days to do everything from plant root crops to cut hair for increased growth, based on the phases of the Moon and other factors. Readers swear that they see better results in their endeavors when they follow these recommendations.

What Does Science Say?

Science has taken the question of the full Moon’s effects seriously enough that there have been a number of studies examining the various claims. Nearly all of them have come up empty, though. All have either found no correlation between the Moon and human behavior or were later debunked by other studies that questioned their methods.

Scientists are also quick to point out that objects on Earth have more effect on one another than the Moon does. Astronomer George Abell famously noted that a mosquito sitting on your arm exerts more gravitational force on your body than the Moon does.

So why the persistent belief, purportedly even among emergency room personnel and police, in the power of the full Moon to bring on crazy behavior? One hypothesis, posed in a 1999 issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders, suggested that sleep deprivation, caused by the brightness of the full Moon, might have worsened existing mental disorders. Once electric lights were invented, the authors said, the effect was negated, which is why modern studies have found no correlation.

Others say the belief has remained strong due to “confirmation bias,” the idea that people favor information that supports their preconceived notions. In other words, if you expect people to act strangely during a full Moon, every strange behavior you encounter during a full Moon reinforces that belief.  Farmer’s Almanac

Okay, then, what about the whole fear of and superstitions around Friday the 13th? The date has a long – I mean a very long – history of been associated with bad luck, haunted houses and that 1980s summer-camp slasher film series.

Seal of the Knights Templar

Many associate the unluckiness of the date with King Philip IV of France who on Friday, October 13, 1307, had his officers arrest hundreds of the Knights Templar – that 12th century powerful religious and military order formed to defend the “Christian Holy Land,” that we’ve found out about in Dan Brown’s popular The Da Vinci Code.

The Templars were imprisoned on trumped up charges of various illegal actions in a naked power move by Philip and many were later executed. And since then, some say this is the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition. But the truth remains murky as do stories about the Templars.

Knights Templar burned at the stake.

According to history.com, a “number of traumatic events have occurred on Friday the 13th” which include:

  • the Nazi bombing of Buckingham Palace (September 1940);
  • the murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens, New York (March 1964);
  • a cyclone that killed more than 300,000 people in Bangladesh (November 1970);
  • the disappearance of a Chilean Air Force plane in the Andes (October 1972);
  • the death of rapper Tupac Shakur (September 1996) and
  • the crash of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy, which killed 30 people (January 2012).

The Fear of 13

Okay, then there’s “The Fear of 13” – it’s a real thing, the fear – not that “13” is actually unlucky – but the number itself. When originally built, a number of high-rise buildings in downtown San Diego excluded naming the 13th floor as “the 13th floor” – elevators would exclude the number on their dial. Seriously.

It’s a superstition, like, say …

“… walking under a ladder, crossing paths with a black cat or breaking a mirror, many people hold fast to the belief that Friday the 13th brings bad luck. Though it’s uncertain exactly when this particular tradition began, negative superstitions have swirled around the number 13 for centuries.

While Western cultures have historically associated the number 12 with completeness (there are 12 days of Christmas, 12 months and zodiac signs, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 gods of Olympus and 12 tribes of Israel, just to name a few examples), its successor 13 has a long history as a sign of bad luck.

The ancient Code of Hammurabi, for example, reportedly omitted a 13th law from its list of legal rules. Though this was probably a clerical error, superstitious people sometimes point to this as proof of 13’s longstanding negative associations.

Fear of the number 13 has even earned a psychological term: triskaidekaphobia.

Pop culture

The whole Friday the 13th thing is in our pop culture:

An important milestone in the history of the Friday the 13th legend in particular (not just the number 13) occurred in 1907, with the publication of the novel Friday, the Thirteenth written by Thomas William Lawson.

The book told the story of a New York City stockbroker who plays on superstitions about the date to create chaos on Wall Street, and make a killing on the market.

The horror movie Friday the 13th, released in 1980, introduced the world to a hockey mask-wearing killer named Jason, and is perhaps the best-known example of the famous superstition in pop culture history. The movie spawned multiple sequels, as well as comic books, novellas, video games, related merchandise and countless terrifying Halloween costumes. History.com

So, here’s an odd thing, did you know that a “Baker’s Dozen” is actually 13?

Well, I know of only one thing happening to me on a Friday the 13 – and that was when I was a kid riding a pony and my pony got kicked by another pony, only the kick landed on my leg. And that was a long time ago and nothing negative has ever happened again to me on the date. Plus, my better half was born on a Friday the 13th – so this all bunk about the 13th on a Friday being unlucky – see the  Farmer’s Almanac

But all this talk about the full moon – now that’s another thing. Tomorrow night, I’m going out and howl at the full moon.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Simon Kardosky September 12, 2019 at 4:03 pm

Here is a review of research papers about the full moon affect on behavior: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/moon.html


Rebecca Aragon September 12, 2019 at 6:35 pm

Serendipity is real!! Thank you for this article!! I attended Point Loma Nazarene College and loved hanging out at Ocean Beach. I plan to have my high school Psychology students read this as a source tomorrow in class. Thanks for an informative and engaging article!
Enjoy that ocean view for me, I sure miss it!
Rebecca Aragon


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