Today is the dreaded “Friday the 13th!” Ooooh, scary! Or perhaps not, depending on your individual outlook and experience with the date. But for many, and not to make light, the phobia is very real.
So many folks have such an innate fear of the number “13” that it has been given a scientific name — “triskaidekaphobia”. Many folks supposedly also have a traditional fear of Fridays, TGIF notwithstanding. Coupling them together, a Friday falling on the 13th of the month, can be doubly stressing. And it happens once, twice or up to three times every year.
The term applied for anyone so afflicted, fearing “Friday the 13th” is “friggatriskaidekaphobia”, from Frigga, the name of the Norse goddess for whom Friday is named, and triskaidekaphobia, or fear of the number thirteen. It is also known as “paraskevidekatriaphobia”, from the Greek Paraskevi for Friday, dekatreis for thirteen and phobia for fear.
Being distracted trying to remember and pronounce either one during a Friday afternoon happy hour discussion may well cause someone to lose focus and walk into a ladder, step into a hole or choke on a chicken wing without any other supernatural influence involved.
There are a number of explanations of how it all got started, but an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the U.S. are so affected and paralyzed by their fear of Friday the 13th that they reschedule air flights and travel, alter business and household routines, and go to great lengths to protect themselves from bad luck and occurences. Reportedly, some never get out of bed on the day. Anyone having a phobia about Friday the 13th is certainly not alone.
In some countries, accidents in general do increase on Friday the 13th. To promote awareness and safety, Finland celebrates National Accident Day each year, always on a Friday the 13th. In some areas of the world, the number of traffic accidents actually increases on a Friday the 13th. In other countries, accidents decrease with people being extra cautious on the day. Either way, it does seem to have an affect.
Black cats have suffered from superstitions and unfounded beliefs surrounding the day unfortunately, causing many prospective owners to pass them by at adoption and rescue shelters over the years. So if you or someone you know is thinking about adopting a cat or kitten, please do not pass by the black cats. They are wonderfully loving companions deserving of a good forever home, too!
Personally, since I was born on a Friday and the first letter of my last name “M” is the 13th letter of the alphabet, I have always considered it a “lucky” day. No one can call me irrational.
Although, I do recall living in Winter Park, Florida on Friday the 13th of August, 2004, when Hurricane Charley visited and left us without power for four days and removed part of the back wall. And a related tornado snapped a palm tree in half about fifty feet off my back patio that night. Would that count as a Friday the 13th thing? On the other hand, we all came thru it without a scratch, so should we then consider ourselves ‘lucky’?
And now we have an Ice Storm Warning outside of St. Louis here today on Friday the 13th, lasting thru Sunday. Would that count as Friday the 13th bad luck? Or merely coincidence?
What kind of a day is Friday the 13th for you? Do you have (hopefully not) unfortunate accident stories to share? Malevolent, ill-tempered or unlucky ladders encountered, perhaps? Examples of serendipitous good fortune or happiness? Maybe it all is a matter of personal experience and outlook, after all. Whatever your views on the day, Little Red Bear and I wish you a wonderful, safe and happy Friday the 13th!
But — a precautionary note — Please exercise a little extra caution and care if headed out and about. It is Friday the 13th, after all. — Jim (and Red!)
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