Friday, January 13, 2012

The fear of Friday the 13th

Today is Friday the 13th. Today is Friday the 13th! Today is Friday the 13th!! Today is Friday the 13th!!!

So what????

If you feel nothing about the combination of number 13 and Friday, you represent a rare minority. It's hard not to feel something about Friday the 13th, Tom Fernsler, a University of Delaware math professor says, "I find that 95% of people in the world are superstitious about something, and the other 5% are liars."

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While the fear for the day itself is common, the name for the related phobia is less known to general public. In fact, there are several competing words, which represent this fear, and all of them are fairly hard to pronounce.

So, the fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom "Friday" is named and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen), or paraskevidekatriaphobia a concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning "Friday"), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning "thirteen") attached to phobía (φοβία, from phóbos, φόβος, meaning "fear"). The latter word was derived in 1911and first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953.

The History of Friday the 13th

One of the theories of how the unlucky combination appeared to the World, proposed by Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, is attributed to legend about Loki. Apparently, the first recorded mention of a Friday the 13th occurred sometime in the early 1900s. There is no definitive date of the origin of the dreaded day of special misfortune. While there is evidence to suggest that the number thirteen was considered unlucky prior to the 20th century, there was no link between Friday and the number 13.

So, the phobia associated with Friday the 13th is a result of an ancient combination of two separate negative associations with the number 13 and the day Friday.

Apparently, there is a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party at Norse heaven know as "Valhalla". An uninvited 13th guest arrived, the mischievous Loki. Loki was able to manipulate the blind god of darkness Hoder to shoot the god of joy and gladness Balder the Beautiful, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. Then, the whole earth grew dark. Balder died and all of Earth mourned. It was an awfully unlucky day. Since then, the number 13 has been considered ominous and threatening.

The number 13 and Friday are recurring presences in other mythological, spiritual and religious tradition. For example, in Christianity, 13 people attended the Last Supper before Judas' betrayal and Jesus' death on a Friday. 

Another theory about the origin of the superstition traces the event to the arrest of the legendary Knights Templar. The Knights Templar were a monastic military order founded in Jerusalem in 1118 A.D. Their original mission was to guide and protect Christian pilgrims along the route from Europe to Jerusalem during the Crusades. Through this mission, the Templars developed a banking system to protect the finances of the traveling pilgrims, then expanded this system throughout their holdings in Europe. Over time, France’s Philip IV of France amassed a debt to the Knights Templar for years of service. He had become envious of the Knights Templar and their rise to power, so he set his sights on their famed fortunes. Philip devised a plan to arrest all the Knights Templar and charge them with crimes so devastating that no person or group would come to their defense. The charges against them were religious in nature and backed by the papacy of the Vatican and Pope Clement V. His plan had to be swift and carefully put together so as to not alert the Templars in advance.

King Phillip’s orders were sent a month in advance and were not to be opened till dawn on Friday, October 13, 1307. The charges against the Templars were of the highest accusations of heresy: that the Knights Templar asked members to spit on the cross and step on it, to deny Christ, to perform homosexual acts, and so on. The king’s orders were to engage and arrest every Templar in France. All Templar outposts, homes, wineries, mills, and castles were to be taken in the name of the King of France and Pope Clement V. This nationwide arrest was widely successful, and medieval torture tactics were used to obtain confessions from the Knights. This single act against the Templar Order is now viewed as one of the most unlucky days in History – Friday the 13th.

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You are not alone!

So, you understand now, that if you feel uncomfortable today, you are not alone. According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States only are affected by a fear of this day, making it probably the most feared day and date in history. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. "It's been estimated that $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day".

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May be, for you it is a lucky Day!

But, some people like the day, consider is a happy one, and even celebrate it. May be, you one of those...

Many parties, some with themes similar to Halloween, are celebrated on Friday 13 around the world. Some charities and fundraising organizations use Friday 13 to hold functions and events to help raise funds for their causes. Other events may include wine tasting nights, art exhibitions, music evenings and dance nights.

Friday 13 is a big celebration at Port Dover in OntarioCanada. It is a day for motorcyclists to gather and it happens every Friday 13. The event attracts large crowds who gather at the town each year and is supported by PD13, a nonprofit organization that coordinates Friday the 13th events in Port Dover.

For those born on Friday 13, it is their lucky day according to myth. Some people win large amounts of money through the lottery on Friday 13. According to, one British couple bought their winning ticket on Friday 13 after a mirror at their home fell down. The lucky couple won $17 million.

Two More!

There is some good news, though. The date can only appear a maximum of three times during a calendar year.

The bad news are that for the first time since 1984, those three Friday the 13ths — today, April 13 and July 13 — are exactly 13 weeks apart.

But more good news are that after this summer, the date isn't set to venture back onto the calendar until September, 2013.

Sources and Additional Information:

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