Friday, July 13, 2012


Paraskevidekatriaphobia, say that thirteen times fast. If you can't then you're doomed! Maybe, especially if you're one of the 21 or so million Americans with the terrifying phobia of Friday the 13th. It's going to be a rough year for them with three Friday the 13ths this year, all exactly 13 weeks apart.

For centuries both Friday and the number 13 have been considered unlucky, therefore making Friday the 13th the unluckiest of them all. The superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th have not only endured into the 21st century, but have similarities in countless cultures transcending language and religion. For example, in Christianity it is said that the Last Supper occurred on a Friday, at which Jesus sat with 12 disciples (1+12=13) and we know how that turned out. Also in Norse mythology, 12 gods gathered for a feast in Valhalla, Loki, the god of mischief (or the bad guy in Thor), was excluded from the gathering but decided to crash it. Loki was so enraged that he ordered Hod, the blind god of darkness, to kill Baldur, the god of joy, with a mistletoe arrow. This was said to cause Earth to plunge into darkness. Both of these have been cited as reason to never gather in groups of 13, the belief being that one of the party will perish.

These days it's estimated that over $800 million is lost on Friday the 13th because superstitious people refuse to drive, go to work, eat at restaurants, travel, or make significant purchases. So a huge sale on Friday the 13th is probably as lucky as you can get, at least for now. While major and minor historical and religious events have taken place to perpetuate our fear of Friday the 13th, an even bigger event in the near future may just be what either proves or disproves the association between bad luck and Friday the 13th. On Friday, April 13th, 2029 an asteroid by the name of Apophis will get a little too close for comfort. It's estimated that Apophis will come closer than the communication satellites that are currently orbiting Earth. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how lucky or unlucky that day ends up.

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