Today is the dreaded “Friday the 13th!” Ooooh, scary!
Or perhaps it is 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 people supposedly also have a traditional fear of Fridays regardless of the date, 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 to anyone so afflicted, fearing “Friday the 13th”, is “friggatriskaidekaphobia”, from ‘Frigga’, the name of the Norse goddess for whom Friday is named, and ‘triskaidekaphobia’, the aforementioned fear of the number thirteen.
It is also known as “paraskevidekatriaphobia”, from the Greek ‘Paraskevi’ for Friday, ‘dekatreis’ for thirteen and ‘phobia’ for fear. Try saying that three times fast at a Friday afternoon happy hour without having to reglue your dentures.
Being distracted trying to remember and pronounce either one may well cause someone to lose focus and walk under a ladder, step into a hole, or choke on a chicken wing without any other supernatural influence involved whatsoever.
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 occurrences. 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, actually 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 reported increases on a Friday the 13th, while in other countries accidents decrease with people being extra cautious on the day. Either way, it does seem to have an effect.
“I’m not nearly as afraid of Friday the 13th, as I am of the people who are afraid of Friday the 13th.” — Unknown
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 wonderful loving companions deserving of good forever homes, 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 many 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’? Or was it all simply mere coincidence?
What kind of an event 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!)
“I had only one superstition. I made sure to touch all the bases when I hit a home run.” — Babe Ruth”
“Superstition is the poetry of life.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Superstition is foolish, childish, primitive, and irrational. But how much does it cost you to knock on wood?” — Judith Viorst