A few years back, the founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Ashville, N.C. estimated that $800 million or $900 million in business is lost on Friday the 13th because people will not fly or conduct other business. Some individuals in fact suffer panic attacks.
Friday the 13th’s reputation as an unlucky day actually derives from two separate fears. According to a National Geographic News article, fear of the number 13 is said to have originated from a Norse myth. Twelve gods were sitting down to a dinner party when the 13th and uninvited god, Loki, arrived. The mischievous Loki arranged for Holder, the god of darkness, to shoot Balder, the god of gladness and light, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. Balder died and the Earth became dark.
From then on the number 13 has been associated with an unlucky day. Witches were believed to gather in groups of 12 in ancient Rome. We know that many skyscrapers don’t have a 13th floor and in Florence, Italy, houses between the numbers 12 and 14 are given an address of 12 ½.
As for Friday, in the Christian faith, it is the day Christ was crucified. Some scholars also believe it was the day Adam tempted Eve with the forbidden fruit and that Cain killed Abel on Friday the 13th. For more on this inauspicious day, see How Friday the 13th Works.
So how did you spend your Friday the 13th? Let us know.
Interested in superstitions? Browse these books:
Superstitions: 10,000 You Really Need by William Carroll
101 American Superstitions: Understanding Language and Culture Through Superstitions by Harry Collis
Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition by Stuart Vyse
The Illustrated Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion
by Sir James Frazer