Do you suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia? This is a term coined by Dr. Donald Dossey to describe a fear of Friday the thirteenth. The good doctor claims that once you can pronounce the word, you're cured. And since this Friday fits that bill, it might be good to understand this most feared of all calendar dates
In actuality it is estimated that in excess of 20 million Americans suffer from this fear and as a result, over $750 million dollars will be lost in business because those people will not shop, travel, or take risks of any kind on Friday the thirteenth.Hotels and other skyscrapers rarely have a 13th floor, many cities will skip thirteenth street, and to this day, the US Navy will not launch a ship on Friday the thirteenth.
How did Friday the thirteenth come to obtain such a reputation? Many people trace the origins of this superstition back to early Christianity. It is said 13 is an unlucky number because there were exactly 13 people attending the last supper, Jesus and the twelve Disciples. Adding to that, the last to arrive, unlucky number 13, was Judas, the betrayer of Christ. And the final piece of the puzzle? Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
Contrary to popular belief, however, the dread of 13 goes much deeper than Christian theology. In fact, the roots of this can be traced all the way back to ancient Norse mythology. Supposedly at a dinner held in the mythical Valhalla, the god Loki was the uninvited thirteenth guest. Through trickery and deception, Loki killed another god, Balder the Good. To this day, many people will avoid a thirteenth guest at dinner.
What does any of this have to do with Friday? In today's world, especially business and school, Friday is a good day. Most of us use the TGIF annacronym at least once in a while? Friday's bad name actually comes from a combination of Norse mythology and early Christianity. Friday was named after the goddess Frigga, the goddess of love. Friday was her day, the day to express love and lust. Early Christian priests, in an effort to stamp out the heresy of pagan rituals, especially those involving lust, labeled Friday a day of sin. To an extent, that legend continues, always amplified by the bad luck associated with 13.
This year, we have only one Friday the thirteenth and it's almost here. So, we have a few days to work on our phonics, paraskevidekatriaphobia. Practice it, say it out loud, and you'll be cured.