Friday the 13th – we’ll have three this year

January 6, 2012

Jack told me this morning that a week from today will be Friday the 13th, and that we will have three Friday the 13ths in 2012.

That makes a lot of people nervous.

I looked it up online and three times in one year is very unusual. It has only happened three times in the same year in more than 30 years, in 1984, 1998 and this year.

Surprisingly, both 1984 and 1998 were good years economically and people had lots of confidence in the government.

We can always hope 2012 follows suit.

But, if you are superstitious or a sufferer of paraskevidekatriaphobia, a fear of Friday the 13th (the term coined by Psychotherapist Donald Dossey, who specializes in the treatment of phobias), you might want to stay at home next Friday.

Dossey says there may be as many as 21 million people out there with this phobia, or at least eight percent of Americans “in the grip of a very old superstition.”

The sixth day of the week or Friday’s are already considered unlucky. The number 13 is considered unlucky and the two together make for an even unluckier Friday, some say.

Where did it all come from? The sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have foreboding reputations said to date from ancient times.

Friday has been consider unlucky since the 14th century’s “The Canterbury Tales,” and may have been considered unlucky because according to the Bible, Jesus was crucified on a Friday.

“Black Friday” has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s.

October 13, 1307 became a Friday the 13th that was a synonym for ill fortune when King Phillip IV of France ordered mass arrests in a dawn raid of several thousand Templars, who were charged with heresy, blasphemy and obscenities, charges never proven but used as an excuse for torture and executions for the next seven years.

Twelve is considered a “good number.” There are twelve months in the year, 12 hours on the clock, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus and 12 Descendants of Muhammad Imams. The number 13 however is considered odd or irregular. There is also a Norse myth that claims having thirteen people seated at a table will result in one diner’s death.

No one is certain why, but according to some sources, the belief that Friday the 13th is doubly unlucky is the most widespread superstition in the United States today.

Some people refuse to go to work on Friday the 13th; some won’t eat in restaurants; many wouldn’t think of setting a wedding on the date.

It’s a good thing I don’t consider myself one of those “eight percent” who are ultra-superstitious. Otherwise I would probably be tempted to stay in bed next Friday to keep from: breaking a mirror, walking under a ladder, spilling the salt or spotting a black cat in the act of crossing my path.

It could be a day best spent at home with doors locked, shutters and curtains closed and fingers crossed…

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