Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Most Unfortunate Day

Tomorrow, an estimated 20 to 67 million people will experience a fear so paralyzing, it may keep them from getting out of bed in the morning. They may refuse to travel, call in sick, or not complete business. They may experience anything from nervousness to panic attacks to even heart attacks. What is it that will cause such a large group of people to have such incapacitating experiences tomorrow? And what's so special about tomorrow, anyway?

Those tens of millions of people are suffering from paraskavedekatriaphobia: a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th. 

Any month that begins on a Sunday will contain a Friday the 13th. This day/date combo can happen anywhere from 1-3 times per year. But take heart, paraskavedekatriaphobes, as you'll have somewhat of a reprieve this year. 2008 has only one Friday the 13th, and tomorrow is it. 

Friday the 13th is considered a day of bad luck in much of Western Europe, North America, and Australia. It is a superstition born of two separate fears: fear of the number 13 (covered yesterday), and fear of Friday. In the British tradition, Friday was the usual day for public hangings. Christians believe Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Adam and Eve supposedly ate the forbidden fruit on a Friday. Some theologians hold that the Great Flood and the confusion of the Tower of Babel both fell on Fridays.

So, to have the 13th day of the month fall on a Friday is some bad juju, indeed. The spectre of Friday the 13th is enough to cause otherwise rational people and even organizations to do seemingly irrational things to avoid it. The US Navy will not launch a ship on any Friday the 13th. Lloyd's of London, in the 1800's, refused to insure any ship sailing on a Friday the 13th. Some ocean liner captains will go to great lengths to delay a planned Friday the 13th launch until just after midnight, when it is technically Saturday the 14th.

People point to past disasters to support their fear/superstition: During the 18th century, the HMS Friday was launched on a Friday the 13th - and was never heard from again. The Black Friday bushfires in Victoria, Australia happened on Friday, January 13, 1939. Hurricane Charley hit near Port Charlotte, Florida on Friday, August 13, 2004. The plane carrying the Uruguayan Rugby team crashed in the Andes mountains on Friday, October 13, 1972.

And yet, there are still those who defy convention: Black Sabbath's debut album (you know, those big, round discs that came before cd's, that came before MP3 files) was released in the UK on Friday, February 13th, 1970. The thirteenth installment in A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket, was released on Friday, October 13, 2006. The Happening, M. Night Shyamalan's latest flick, is set to release tomorrow, Friday, June 13, 2008. And, a remake of the original Friday the 13th movie is planned for release on Friday, February 13, 2009.

Some believe whole-heartedly that tomorrow is a bad, bad day. Others believe it's all a buncha hooey. I fit somewhere in the middle, I think. So, for all my fellow fence-sitters, and for all those who plan to pull the covers over their heads and not come out 'til the 14th, I found some interesting things that may help you get through the day tomorrow, courtesy of Brownielocks.com:
  • Walk around your house 13 times on Friday the 13th.
  • Hang your shoes out the window. (Really. That's what it said. No explanation. Just "Hang your shoes out the window." Perhaps it gasses out the bad juju?)
  • Sleep with a mirror under your pillow for the first 3 Fridays before Friday the 13th. Then, on Friday the 13th, you have to dream of your true love. (Well, it's a little late now for this one. Just file it away for the next one coming up in February 2009. You could still try the dreaming part tomorrow, though. It could work...)
  • Walk around the block with your mouth full of water. If you don't swallow it, you'll be 100% safe on Friday the 13th.
  • Wear and/or eat garlic.
At best, these rituals will save you from bad luck. At worst, it will give your neighbors one more reason to talk about you. 

Good luck!

My sources:



2 comments:

  1. Hi Kim,

    I never heard of paraskavedekatriaphobia before. What a long word, I doubt I'd be able to say it fast three times. Anyway, interesting facts and ideas of how to not have bad luck on Friday the 13th. So, what are you doing tomorrow? Me? I'm going snorkeling.

    Joy aka Zebee or is it the other way around?

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  2. HOT DIGGITY DOG! It's a lucky day for me! After 14 years, June 13 2008 is my last day at work! I'll be taking on a dream of mine - teaching dance (and managing a dance studio!). So No No No Bad JUJU here! Just alot of DANCING!!!

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