"The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia"
Experts say that 'friggatriskaidekaphobia' affects millions of people all over the world, and estimate that businesses, especially airlines suffer from severe losses on Friday the 13th.
Triskaidekaphobia, or the fear of the number 13 is even more widespread. So much so that many high rise buildings, hotels and hospitals skip the 13th floor and many airports do not have gates numbered 13.
In many parts of the world, having 13 people at the dinner table is considered bad luck.
But back to Friday the 13th.
Friday the 13th is considered to be the unluckiest day in the Gregorian Calendar. For many people, it is a day to be cautious, maybe even stay indoors, avoid black cats, ladders and mirrors, and reach out for their good luck charms for protection. In short, it's a day to be feared. But why?
Very little is known about the origins of the day's notoriety. Some historians believe that the superstitions surrounding it arose in the late 19th century, and it true to say that the superstition gained cultural acceptance in 1907, after the release of a book simply called "Friday, the Thirteenth". Published by a relatively stock promoter called Thomas Lawson, the book was the inspiration for the Friday 13th mythology, which culminated in the lurid film and TV franchises starting in the 1980s. Surprisingly, the book had a very modern-day scenario of a broker who ruthlessly engineers booms and busts in the stock market to work revenge on his enemies, leaving only misery and ruin in his wake.
The storyline neatly uses the jitters associated with Fridays and the supposedly unlucky number 13.
One of the characters is noted as saying, “Every man on the floor and in the Street as well has his eye on it.
Friday, the 13th, would break the best bull market ever under way.
Apparently though, just about a quarter of a century earlier, it was the The Thirteen Club that kick-started the campaign to rid the world of superstition, but ended up fueling it instead. The club first met on September 13th 1881 (a Wednesday), though it was formally organized on Friday, January 13, 1882.
Club members met on the 13th of the month, sat 13 to a table, broke mirrors and spilled salt with exuberance, and walked into dinner under crossed ladders. The club’s annual reports carefully noted how many of its members had died, and how many of them passed away within a year of attending a club dinner. They even urged courts to stop picking on Friday as “hanging day” and hold executions on other days too. So prolific was their approach, even those who were only vaguely familiar with Friday the 13th superstition started fearing the date.
Some say that the concepts of Friday and the number 13 as being an unlucky are linked to the Bible. For example, Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, has been labelled as "the 13th guest" at the Last Supper. Other biblical events that supposedly occurred on a Friday include the great flood during the time of Noah, the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel, the day Eve tempted Adam with the apple, and the day Jesus Christ died. On Friday 13, October 1307, a warrant was issued for the Knights Templars to be arrested. Masses of Templars were tortured or executed by burning at the stake.
There are theories that date even further back in time however.
The superstition surrounding Friday 13th could also be linked to Norse mythology.
According to legend, 12 gods were at a banquet at Valhalla when Loke, the demi god of mischief who was not invited, turned up, bringing the total number of guests to 13. He was responsible for the chaos that led to the death of one of the good gods – Balder – so all the gods grieved.
Interestingly the ancient Egyptians thought the number 13 was lucky because they believed that the 13th stage of life was related to the afterlife. After the decline of the ancient Egyptian civilization the number 13 was still associated with death but the idea of death being a wonderful thing, people associated it with with fear.
Whatever the origins (likely to be a combination of all of the above, and possible more!) what is clear is that this day can wreak havoc.
But for those of you who wish to view this in another way, it can also be an opportunity to secure a bargain.
Booking a wedding? - Not many couples will want to have their big day on Friday 13th so venues often offer huge discounts! Need a flight? - Likewise, many people will choose to avoid this day to the skies so flights are often cheaper than on other days.
Maybe you could make Friday 13th YOUR lucky day!