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Paraskevidekatriaphobia

January 13, 2012 by staff 

Paraskevidekatriaphobia, If you suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia, you might not be greeting the day with “Thank God it’s Friday.” Why not? Because while today is Friday, it also happens to be Jan. 13 –and fear of Friday the 13th is what defines paraskevidekatriaphobia.

It’s a big word and a lot of hoopla over, well, not much, scientifically speaking. A phobia is an irrational fear, and superstition, which is what Friday the 13th is all about.

It’s defined by Merriam-Webster as a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation.

Friday the 13th is supposed to be an unlucky day. Why? Perhaps, some postulate, it’s the combination of Friday and the number 13.

Why is Friday a bad day, especially when it signals the end of the work week for most people?

Could it be because Christians believe Jesus was crucified on a Friday? Some say Friday is the day Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit — but since there were no calendars created at that point, it’s hard to understand how we could know such a thing. Ditto for the Great Flood, since the calendar as we know it today did not exist then, either.

As for the number 13, that’s the number of participants in the Last Supper the day prior to the crucifixion –the 12 Apostles plus Jesus. Why that’s considered unlucky I’m not sure. It could be seen as unlucky for Jesus, I guess, but since it also represents the reason he lived among us, according to Christian belief –to die for the salvation of unholy humanity –luck didn’t play much of a role.

Then there’s Apollo 13 — the 1970 mission that went bad on April 13 and spawned the now-cliche “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” At the time, it wasn’t cliche or amusing at all, but at least it had a happy ending.

So do you consider yourself above all the Friday the 13th hype, think of it as nothing more than light entertainment, good for a laugh or two?

Really?

Would you risk embarking on, say, a new job, a marriage, a vacation or buying a new house today, if that was an option? Or would you rather play it safe and tiptoe through today, hoping nothing serious goes awry?

There’s no science behind the superstition, but according to About.com, in 1993 the British Medical Journal published the results of a study titled “Is Friday the 13th Bad for Your Health?” Based on data collected in the United Kingdom on traffic volume and automobile accidents on Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th over a period of several years, the study’s authors concluded that “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.”

And there you have it. This is the first of three Fridays that fall on the 13th of the month this year –brace yourself for another in April and a third in July. Forewarned is forearmed, or so they say.

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