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Beverley Golden Headshot

Friday the 13th... Very Superstitious

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On a recent trip to my acupuncturist, I was reminded that Friday the 13th is a really easy day to get an appointment. She told me that people won't book appointments because they won't drive. Some people don't even leave their house, or their bed! I was once again, for some reason, surprised; mainly because I consider myself to be a very non-superstitious person. I've actually been known to walk under ladders, as long as a black cat isn't crossing my path at the time.

My curiosity was once again aroused so I couldn't wait to get home and investigate the whys, wheres and hows of this apparently widely held superstition. The good news for those who believe in this superstition is that 2011 only has one Friday the 13th, which is tomorrow. The number varies from one to three per calendar year, and every month that begins on a Sunday will have a Friday the 13th. Good to know, I thought. And, the longest period of time without a Friday the 13th is 14 months.

The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga is the name of the Norse goddess whom Friday is named after, and triskaidekaphobia means the fear of the number 13) or paraskevidekatriaphobia. The impact of this day is so widespread that the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C. estimates that 17 to 21 million people in the United States alone are affected by a fear of Friday the 13th. Wow, that is a lot of people. I wondered if these people will go to the horror movie "Friday the 13th" because, I admit, I personally don't like horror movies and always wondered about the type of person who does. That's another story, so back to the major influence this day has. Donald Dossey, behavioral scientist and founder of the above Institute, also reported that "[it's] been estimated that $800-$900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do." That's an enormous impact related to one superstition, some say the most widely held superstition of all.

There are varying reports on where Friday the 13th, as a superstition, started. According to folklorists, there is no written evidence of the superstition before the 19th century. There are several theories that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions. The obvious one is that the number 13 is an unlucky number. The other is that Friday is an unlucky day. Being interested in numerology, I do understand that 12 is the number of completeness. We see this reflected everywhere in our world, in the twelve months of the year, the twelve signs of the zodiac, the twelve hours on the clock and even the twelve Apostles of Jesus. The list of 12s goes on and on. Because thirteen is irregular, it infringes on this completeness. There are both biblical and Norse myths that relate to the "unlucky" associations with the number 13. If I stop to think about it, the fear of the number 13 is so prevalent that most apartment buildings and office towers don't even have a 13th floor, and many don't have any rooms with the number 13. When I was recently checked in to a room on the 13th floor of a hotel, I admit, I didn't even realize it might be unlucky until I was in the elevator with another guest who had been placed on the same floor. We fearlessly rode to the floor, commenting and laughing that we might be the only ones checking in who were okay to take a room on the 13th floor. For me, the positive was that I had a great view of the city.

Friday as an unlucky day, however, could date back to the 14th century and "The Canterbury Tales" with other professions regarding Fridays as a bad luck day to start trips or begin new projects. Black Friday, the infamous stock market crash day, is just one of the unlucky associations tied to a Friday. Personally, knowing Friday is Venus day, I love it and look forward to it. I know there are many working girls and guys who spend many of their weekdays waiting for it and proclaiming TGIF (Thank God It's Friday) when it arrives. Maybe just not when it's a Friday the 13th, I suppose.

There is so much written about Friday the 13th that I was encouraged to find that there is good news, relating to overcoming the fear of it. Dossey, among others, offers ways of changing the negative, "bad luck" association with this day, by thinking positive, pleasant thoughts, which in turn creates more pleasant feelings, which might then help diminish the overwhelming aspect of the fear. Folklore remedies offer up the following: Climb to the top of a mountain or skyscraper and burn all the socks you own that have holes in them. Or, stand on your head and eat a piece of gristle. Reminds me that if you are open to finding it, there is always hope.

So, whatever you decide to do this coming Friday the 13th, I wish you all good luck and an especially wonderful day. As for me, I know for sure I'm getting out of bed, leaving my house, getting in my car and driving to have an acupuncture treatment.

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