Friday, February 24, 2012


Paraskavedekatriaphobia is a term used to describe the surprisingly common fear of Friday the 13th that affects between seventeen and twenty-one million people in the United States. It is unclear exactly how this day became so infamous, but there are many historical connections to the fear of the number thirteen and unlucky Fridays. Combine these two ideas and it equals one ominous day. One of the oldest myths about the number thirteen comes from the Vikings. It is said that twelve gods were invited to a banquet, excluding Loki, the god of mischief. Loki crashed the dinner party, and in the process, convinced Hod, the god of winter, to kill Balder, the favorite of the gods. Because of this tale, some people refuse to host dinner parties for thirteen people. In fact, in France it is possible to hire a fourteenth guest to attend your party. The number thirteen is also associated with the attendants of the Last Supper, which included Jesus’s betrayer. Ancient Romans believed that witches gathered in groups of twelve and that when the devil arrived at their meetings he brought the number of attendees to thirteen. For whatever reasons people may have, the number thirteen has stricken a wrong note in the lives of modern people. Buildings often do not add a thirteenth floor. Italians mark the house between twelve and fourteen as twelve and a half. Many airports skip the thirteenth gate. How do we explain this fear of a simple number? Numerologists say that the number thirteen is an unstable number. The number twelve is present in the zodiac, the months of the year, the apostles, etc.  Twelve is a “complete” number and so anything that may disrupt it is found to cause uneasiness. So why is it Friday the 13th and not Wednesday the 13th that causes so much commotion?  It has been said that Adam and Eve were banned from the Garden of Eden on a Friday. Roman executions were held on Fridays, meaning that the crucifixion of Jesus occurred on a Friday. The word Friday originated from the goddess Freya, who was considered to be a witch by Christians. It is not quite clear when Friday the 13th, specifically, became a fear all in its own. It is clear that it affects a large number of people in the world today, but is this fear really warranted?
While a fear of Friday the 13th doesn’t seem so harmful, it can actually have some negative effects on not only an individual, but also on society.  A 1993 study done in Britain indicated that there were a significant number more car accidents on Friday the 13th then on another random day of the month. Superstitious individuals would look at this study as proof to their claims. A skeptic, on the other hand assumes that people are so nervous on this day that they are not necessarily psychologically sound enough to drive at optimum levels. Nurses may not be lying when they say that the ER is crazy on Friday the 13th, but it still remains unproven as to what the exact reasoning for this is. The phobia impacts some people so much that they choose to forego plans and remain at home all day. Businesses report a total loss of eight hundred to nine hundred million dollars every Friday the 13th in the US. So many people are losing out because of this phobia, and it’s all because people assume that a number and a day have the power to influence their lives. How come this power doesn’t exist every other Friday or any other day that thirteenth falls on? Is it only the combined power of the two that can afflict us? The believers assume that the myths they have heard are all factual. They then add these to the list of current, unfortunate historical occurrences. If so many awful events happened over such a long period of time because of Friday or the number thirteen or both then it can’t be coincidence, right? Wrong, people are known to search for patterns even when there is none, and so these coincidences are often fabricated into phenomenon. In my opinion, it is quite ridiculous for a person to have their life compromised by a day and number that have no proven significance in any unfortunate events. It would be very difficult to test if such a thing is even possible, leaving one to rely on numerology and faith. With a life as busy as mine, Friday the 13th is not a deciding factor when it comes to my schedule.

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