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Unlucky Friday 13th?
A Series of Unfortunate Events
So, do you consider yourself to be a superstitious person? Do you believe that you need to be wary of Friday 13th? The fear of Friday 13th does actually have 2 technical names, paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia (where Frigga is the Norse god after whom Friday is named and triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13). It was a term first used by Isador Coriat.
Apparently, that there are around 17-21 million people in the United States affected by this fear, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Ashville, North Carolina, giving rise to an estimated US$800-US$900 million loss of business as people change their normal routines in doing business, making journeys or taking flights. If that’s right, then the US economy stands to lose US$2400-US$2700 million this year.
In Spanish speaking countries, they fear Tuesday 13th (martes trece), rather than Friday, as Tuesday is considered to be dominated by Mars, the God of War, (as you will see from the romance language names for Tuesday (Mardi in French, Martes in Spanish). The Greeks also consider both Tuesday and the 13th to be unlucky days. In Greek Tuesday is known as Triti, the third day of the week and it is felt that bad things come in threes. Yikes, there’s three Friday 13ths this year! Thirteen weeks apart. Even worse, if a 31-day month has a Tuesday 13th, the following month will have a Friday 13th. So, we also have to take account of Tuesday 13th in March and November. I am not sure what the figures would be for Hispanic or Greek people in the US who have a fear of Tuesday 13th, but if you add this figure to the loss of money we already have, then 2012 is not looking good. We need a word for the fear of years that have a lot of unlucky days in them.
In a leap year, does this mean that all the marriages that take place from the ladies proposing in the leap year will be doomed to end in failure because they took place in an unlucky year? Well, there’s more bad news for the Greeks, because marriages that take place in a leap year are considered to be unlucky, with one in five engaged Greek couples avoiding marrying in a leap year. Guess it’s time to tighten your belts if you’re running a Greek bridal business this year, especially in the US, which is already over US$2700 million down because of all the Tuesday and Friday 13th s! In Scotland it is thought to be unlucky to be born in a leap year.
So superstitious dates are big business then. How did it all begin? It seems that the number 13 is considered to be unlucky because it follows 12 which is thought to be a very lucky number (hours on the clock, months in year, Apostles of Jesus, Descendants of Muhammad Imams, tribes of Israel, etc) and the extra one alters the number of completeness. Friday has been considered to be unlucky since the days of the 14th Century and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Black Friday has been the name given to stock market crashes since the 1800s.
How rational is the fear? Do statistics support the idea that more accidents happen on these days? It is difficult to quantify as there tends to be a rise in injuries on a Friday simply because it’s the day before the weekend and higher alcohol-related incidents therefore distort any useful data.
So, whether you believe that these days are unlucky or not, the reality is that there is a very real correlation between these dates and the economy, with people trying to avoid any potential harm by changing their usual routine.
The fascination with the date is reflected in popular culture, with the debut album by Black Sabbath being released in the UK on Friday 13th February, 1970. Lemony Snicket (aka novelist Daniel Handler released the 13th book in a Series of Unfortunate Events on Friday 13th October 2006. Five of the Friday 13th films were released on Friday 13th.