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With so many ways to express the fear of Friday the 13th, (including horror movies, books, and even social media like Twitter where such phrases can trend) could there be some truth involved? The scientific evidence is very sketchy.
Dr. Atul Gawande, the surgeon and widely praised writer, noted in 1998 that other surgeons avoided signing up for procedures on Friday the 13th. At least one scientific study noted that hospital admissions from traffic accidents were 52% higher on Friday the 13th than on Friday the 6th, for example. But the study is very narrow and hard to use as a template. Some high-rise developers refuse to call the 13th floor by its rightful numeral, striking the number from the directory.
The fear of Friday the 13th has been called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named in English and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen) and paraskevidekatriaphobia, a concentration of the Greek words paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”) attached to phobía (φοβία, from phóbos, φόβος, meaning “fear”). Seriously, I tried pronouncing friggatriskaidekaphobia and paraskevidekatriaphobia out loud, and I really can’t! Can you?
How did Friday the 13th earn it’s earn it’s reputation for bad luck? One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that 13 is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day. However, in Spanish-speaking countries, it’s Tuesday the 13th that’s unlucky, and in Italian popular culture, it’s Friday the 17th. Whatever we may think about the day or date, it’s our own fear and superstition that creates the dreaded atmosphere!
As an added bonus, as though Friday the 13th isn’t enough of a doozy by itself, it’s also a full moon today! It’s the first full moon on a Friday the 13th in June since 1919 and the first on a Friday the 13th of any month since October 2000. It won’t happen again until October 2049. The full moon in June is known as the Strawberry Moon, Rose Moon, Hot Moon, or Honey Moon.
Any time the first day of the month is a Sunday, that month will have a Friday the 13th. In 2015, there will be three such Fridays: in February, March, and November! (The last time that happened was in 2009; do you remember?) Do you have any superstitious beliefs about Friday the 13th? Do you spend it hiding under the covers (trust me; no judgement here!), or do you set up a grand all-day movie marathon? Watching all twelve Friday the 13th films back to back would take 18 hours and 32 minutes—I’m not joking—and that doesn’t even include the three-season television series or the new movie coming out next year. Tell me about your Friday the 13th traditions, if you have any, in the comments!