Did you know there’s a name for those who fear Friday the 13th?
Try saying that three times fast.
Some sources say it may be the most widespread superstition in the United States. Some people won’t go to work on Friday the 13th; some won’t eat in restaurants; many wouldn’t think of setting a wedding on the date.
Just how many Americans at the turn of the millennium still suffer from this condition? According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of phobias (and coiner of the term “paraskevidekatriaphobia”), the figure may be as high as 21 million. If he’s right, eight percent of Americans are still in the grips of a very old superstition.
Statistically, only about 3.3% of the population has a birthday on the 13th of a month. I wonder what’s eating the other 4.7%.
I’m not sure why Friday the 13th is supposed to be such a bad day. Everyone ooohs and ahhs about it as though they’re performing a cold reading of some B-movie script that even Hollywood couldn’t bring itself to embrace. Society obviously takes this pretty seriously, because there are a lot of high-rise buildings out there with inaccurately numbered floors. Or do they build the 13th floor and just leave it vacant?
Hmmmm. Note to self: try the stairwell next time.
Here’s another tidbit about this “unlucky” day:
With the aim of mapping “the relation between health, behaviour, and superstition surrounding Friday 13th in the United Kingdom,” the authors [of a British Medical Journal study] compared the ratio of traffic volume to the number of automobile accidents on two different days, Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th, over a period of years.
Incredibly, they found that in the region sampled, while consistently fewer people chose to drive their cars on Friday the 13th, the number of hospital admissions due to vehicular accidents was significantly higher than on “normal” Fridays. Their conclusion:
“Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52 percent. Staying at home is recommended.”
It’s enough to make you wonder if we’re talking about Friday the 13th or April 1st!
Anyway, this particular Friday the 13th happens to be my birthday.
Perhaps I should be waiting for a disaster to befall me, but I’m not. 2005 wasn’t a perfect year, but it could have been a lot worse. One needn’t look far to see that. In the past year I lost friends to cancer, accidents, and saw still more of them lose their job, health, and/or home. I could easily be in their shoes. And who knows, I could be in that very place a year from now.
For today however, life is good. No — make that great. And no paraskevidekatriaphobic is gonna bring me down.