Friday, July 13, 2018

Are you afraid of Friday the 13th?

Posted by: Dani Harper, Author

Are you a triskaidekaphobe
Blame it on the Vikings.

That ten-dollar word refers to someone who is afraid of the number 13. And the Vikings apparently regarded 13 as a sinister number because their trickster god, Loki, once crashed a party for 12 at Valhalla and caused the death of beloved Baldur, god of joy and light. (No doubt this is also the origin of the term “party-pooper”)

The number 13 is bad enough, but add it to a Friday and the bad luck just gets worse. For one thing, you’ll have more big words to deal with – if you’re afraid of Friday the 13th, then you have friggatriskaidekaphobia, also called paraskevidekatriaphobia.

Think about it. Even if you don’t believe in luck or bad karma or cosmic forces, do you still hesitate before buying a lottery ticket on Friday the 13th? Or starting an important project? Or traveling? You might brush it off and carry on with your plans, but the day is so ingrained in our culture that few of us are immune. 

A calendar year may have 1 to 3 “thirteenths” occurring on a Friday, like 2012 and 2015. Fortunately for the fearful, the triple threat years don’t happen very often. This year, 2018, has two – the first one was in April, and the second in July.


Superstitions about the number 13 or Friday the 13th

• If you cut your hair on Friday the 13th, someone in your family will die. (Does it depend on how good the haircut is?)

• A clock striking 13 portends a death in the family. (Again with the family!) Or it may signal paranormal activity.

• If you’re born on Friday the 13th, you’ll be unlucky for life. Not to worry, apparently it’ll also be a short life!

• It’s bad luck to marry on this day. (In Middleton, New York, in 1913, a pastor offered to marry couples for free on Friday the 13th to counteract the superstition.)

• Some folklore claims that if you’re passed by a funeral procession on Friday the 13th, you’ll be the next to die. (So is everyone the procession passes doomed? You could wipe out most of a town in one fell swoop!)

• Leaving on vacation? Bad karma to do it on the 13th. Historically, mariners have declined to set sail on that day.

• Thirteen stairs? Bad news. (My knees think so too.) In British history, tradition held that a gallows had 13 steps, and Friday was known as “the hangman’s day”. Literally.

• Never have 13 place settings at the dinner table; it’s said that one guest may die within a year. Since the 1700s, tradition has held that there were 13 people in attendance at The Last Supper. In France, you could once hire a professional quatorzieme, or 14th guest to balance your dinner party and avoid calamity.

 Many airports still don’t have a Gate 13. Ronald Reagan National in Washington is on that list. So is Chicago’s Midway. Tall buildings and even hospitals still sometimes skip having a 13th floor (in name at least – the floor is still there of course, just renamed). Hotels have known for years that customers dislike rooms with the number 13 in them.

Can you escape Friday the 13th?

No matter how enlightened we think we are, a lot of us exercise caution on this calendar day. In fact, it’s estimated that the US probably loses millions of dollars in business on Friday the 13th, because so many people postpone major purchases and reschedule trips. And that doesn’t count the number of workers who call in sick.

The town fathers of French Lick, Indiana, tried to be proactive in October, 1939. They decreed that all black cats in town wear bells on Friday the 13th so that people could avoid them. This practice stayed on the books through 1941. After a particularly bad Friday the 13th (no mention of what happened), the law was reinstated for 1942. The person with the worst luck in all of this was probably the town marshal, whose job it was to bell all those cats!

Of course, you can always fight superstition with superstition. To counteract Friday the 13th, folklore says you can climb to a high place (mountain or skyscraper, whatever’s handiest) and burn all of your socks that have holes in them. Or you can walk around your house 13 times on Friday the 13th and hang your shoes out the window.

It goes without saying you should avoid anyone wearing a hockey mask.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

THE GRIM SERIES by Dani Harper

The fae are cunning, powerful and often cruel. The most beautiful among them are often the most deadly. Hidden far beneath the mortal world, the timeless faery realm plays by its own rules—and those rules can change on a whim. Now and again, the unpredictable residents of that mystical land cross the supernatural threshold…

In this enchanting romance series from Dani Harper, the ancient fae come face-to-face with modern-day humans and discover something far more potent than their strongest magic: love.

See ALL Dani's novels on her Amazon Author Page

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