December 13, 2013

Friday the 13th: Seperating the Facts From Fiction

Friday the 13th occurs when the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday which according to superstitions is bad luck.  Ok everyone now say it with me "Paraskevidekatriaphobia".  Do you feel better now? According to superstitions just saying this word is supposed to cure Friday the 13th related fears.This may sound hokey to most you reading my blog but 21 million Americans suffer from the fear of Friday the 13th or a related fear of the number 13 which is called friggatriskaidekaphobia. Try to say that 5 times fast. There is such a phobia associated with Friday the 13th that 80% of Skyscrapers skip the 13th floor, hospitals avoid room 13, and airports skip gate 13.  It is such a feared day that between 800 and 900 million dollars is lost in business on this day.  People will not travel or do business on this day for fear of what might happen. Negative things happen everyday but when they happen on Friday the 13th association occurs and it becomes a classic example of confirmation bias.

There are many superstitions associated with day. Here are a few that you have probably heard of with a bit of info on how they originated.

Do Not Open an Umbrella Indoors:
Originated in ancient greece apparently opening an umbrella will upset the sun gods.

Do Not Walk Under a Ladder:
This originated some time ago and it was said those who walked under a ladder were in line with the devil

Do Not Wear Opal it is Ccontaminated With Evil:
In the 19th century Sir Walter Scott's character Lady Hermione in Anne of Geierstein turns to ashes after holy water is sprinkled on her opal-bedazzled hair.

Do Not Break a Mirror it Causes 7 Years Bad Luck:
The Romans believed life renewed itself every 7 years so breaking a mirror disrupted that link to your inner self.

Do Not Spill Salt it Causes Bad Luck:
This is associated with treachery and lies

Do Not Let a Black Cat Cross Your Path:
In the middle ages it was believed that black cats were familiar with witches

Do Not Cut Your Hair on Friday the 13th:
If you do someone in your family will die.

If you are born on Friday the 13th it is said that you will be un-lucky for life.

We all know these common superstitions but most of us do not know where the fear of Friday the 13th originated.  There are actually many different stories relating to the start of this fear. Origins are unclear but below are a few prominent examples.

It Originated From Norse Myth:
It was said that 12 gods were invited to a dinner in their Heaven at Valhalla.  Loki the mischievous god who was not invited, walked into the party. Apparently Loki planned for the blind god of darkness, Hoder to murder the God of Joy and Sadness known as Balder the Beautiful.  Hoder shot Balder with a mistletoe-tipped arrow and after Balders death the earth got dark.  In this scenario the number 13th represents Loki as the 13th guest and has been considered ominous and foreboding.

It Originated From Christianity:
At the the Last Supper, Judas was the last suppers 13th guest and the last apostle who betrayed Jesus.
Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
Eve tempted Adam with the Apple on a Friday.

It Originated From Hinduism:
The Hindus believed that it was bad luck for 13 people to gather together for any reason at any time.

It Originated From the Ancient Goddesses:
The number 13 corresponds with the number of Lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 times 28 = 364 days).
The Tarot card deck has a number 13 card which is non other than the devil.

For people in other parts of the world Friday the 13th is just a franchise of horror movies, but if you are one of the 21 million people afraid of this day then dive, duck, and take cover.  You only have about 12 more hours to go.

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