Friday The 13th: 13 Facts About Paraskavedekatriaphobia
By: LiveScience Staff From Huffington Post
Published: 04/13/2012 08:59 AM EDT on LiveScience
Does Friday the 13th freak you out? If so, hold on to your rabbit's foot extra tight, because there are three of these supposedly unlucky dates in 2012, and today (April 13) is one of them.
Read on for 13 strange facts about this day of superstition.
1. This year (2012) is a special one for Friday the 13ths: There are three of them: Jan. 13, April 13 and July 13. The freaky thing? The dates fall exactly 13 weeks apart. That hasn't happened since 1984.
2. If that scares you, you may have paraskavedekatriaphobia (also known as friggatriskaidekaphobia). Those are the scientific terms for fear of Friday the 13th. Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13.
3. It's not clear when or why Friday the 13th became associated with bad luck. The association may be biblical, given that the 13th guest at the Last Supper betrayed Jesus. His crucifixion was the next day, apparently a Friday.
Or maybe 13 suffers from coming after the more-pleasing number 12, which gets to number the months, the days of Christmas and even the eggs in a dozen.
(There are also 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel and 12 apostles of Jesus.)
4. Whatever the reason, fear of 13 has spread far and wide: Hotels and hospitals often skip the 13th floor, and even airports quietly omit gate 13 sometimes.
5. The next year in which we'll have three Friday the 13ths is 2015. They'll fall in February, March and November.
6. If you think your Friday the 13th is likely to be bad, be glad you aren't a 14th-century Knight Templar. On Oct. 13, 1307, officers of King Philip IV of France raided the homes of thousands of these Crusades warriors, imprisoning them on charges of illegal activities.
Though the charges weren't proven, more than a hundred died of terrible torture, according to "Tales of the Knights Templar" (Warner Books, 1995).
7. Fittingly, director of psychological thrillers Alfred Hitchcock was born on the 13th — Friday, Aug. 13, 1999, would have been his 100th birthday.
Perhaps aptly titled "Number 13," a film that was supposed to be Hitchcock's directorial debut never made it past the first few scenes and was shut down due to financial problems. He allegedly said the film wasn't very interesting.
(Meanwhile, Fidel Castro was born on Friday the 13th, in August 1926.)
8. Why does the Friday the 13th superstition stick so firmly in our minds? According to Thomas Gilovich, who chairs the department of psychology at Cornell University, our brains are almost too good at making associations.
"If anything bad happens to you on Friday the 13th, the two will be forever associated in your mind, and all those uneventful days in which the 13th fell on a Friday will be ignored," Gilovich said in a statement.
[13 Superstitions & Traditions Explained]
9. For pagans, 13 is actually a lucky number. It corresponds with the number of full moons in a year.
10. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is said to have avoided travel on the 13th day of any month, and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.
11. Mark Twain once was the 13th guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. "It was bad luck," Twain later told the friend. "They only had food for 12." Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest.
[13 Odd Occurrences on Friday the 13th]
12. Stock broker and author Thomas W. Lawson, in his 1907 novel "Friday the Thirteenth," wrote of a stockbroker's attempts to take down Wall Street on the unluckiest day of the month. Reportedly, stock brokers after this were as unlikely to buy or sell stocks on this unlucky day as they were to walk under a ladder, according to accounts of a 1925 New York Times article.
13. This fear of Friday the 13th can be serious business, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C., which, among other things, offers therapy to help people overcome their fear of the freaky friday. Their estimates suggest hundreds of millions of dollars, up to $900 million are lost due to people's fear of flying or doing the business as usual that day, though that number isn't backed up with other estimates.
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Friday 13th - 7 Of The World’s Strangest Superstitions
You can keep your rabbit’s foot and your four-leaf clover – fingers crossed you never fall foul of these unusual customs from around the world.
We’ve all got our own little superstitions, ranging from not walking under a ladder to quirkier customs like not putting new shoes on a table.
But should you be worried about sleeping with the fan on, chewing gum after dark or leaving home without your lucky acorn?
Bingo comparison site Bingo Find delved into the world of luck-related hang-ups and superstitions on Friday 13th to find some very obscure beliefs.
No strangers to superstitions and luck-related hang-ups, the people of Turkey harbour a particularly bizarre belief that if you chew gum after the sun goes down, it will actually turn into dead flesh.
So if you find yourself with less than fresh breath there at any point, we’d avoid the gum if we were you!
In South Korea…
South Koreans believe that if you sleep with a fan on in the bedroom, you’ll essentially perish while you're asleep. This belief is so deep-rooted that even doctors are adamant that you shouldn’t risk it.
Number-related superstitions are rife in many cultures – Friday the thirteenth, anyone? - but few take it as far as China, who believe that the number four should be avoided at all costs. Many go as far as to ensure they don’t go to the fourth floor in most buildings, and even skip all levels with the number in them.
They also avoid manufacturing license plates with the dreaded digit. Fortunately the number eight is considered extremely lucky in China, to the extent that the Beijing Olympics began at eight sections past 8.08pm on 8/88/08.
In Medieval England…
Back in Medieval England, pregnant women would prepare what was known as ‘groaning cheese’ – which was essentially a large rounded wheel of cheese that was left to mature for the full nine months – after which she and the family would dine on this and nothing else, leaving nothing but the outer rind.
The ritual dictates that the little one would be passed through the rind on the day of their christening – blessing them with a long and prosperous life.
Known as 'congestione', in Italy they avidly subscribe to the idea that, if you go anywhere near water within 3-4 hours of eating, you will, in no uncertain terms, die. Some even refuse to shower for fear of meeting an abrupt end.
In Ancient Britain…
Who needs anti-aging creams when you’ve got an acorn? In Ancient Britain, women used to carry them around in their pockets in the belief that that they would keep them looking fresh faced. In the Encyclopaedia of Superstitions, the oak tree is thought to ward of illness due to its own long life.
Eating 12 grapes in quick succession on New Year’s Eve is actually better than finding somebody to kiss when the clock strikes midnight in Spain. Locals believe that doing so will bring you great luck over the coming year.