- Religion and Philosophy
Paraskevidekatriaphobics, Friday the 13th
That’s quite a mouthful for a single word wouldn’t you say? However, it’s just a fancy way of describing a fear of Friday the 13th. Some say it's the most widespread superstition in the United States today and even refuse to go to work or participate in any normal daily routines on that day. They prefer to stay at home behind locked doors with their fingers crossed. Not only is Friday the 13th considered unlucky, but some even believe the day Friday is also.
Dr. Donald Dossey, a phobia psychotherapist who also coined the word, says as many as 21 million Americans may be affected by this ancient superstition.
Let’s take a look at a few beliefs and legends connected with Friday the 13th:
· If 13 people sit down to dinner together, one will die within the year. The first to finish and stand will be the one fated to encounter misfortune.
· Many buildings don't have a 13th floor.
· Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue.
· There are 13 witches in a coven.
· People having 13 letters in their name will be cursed with bad luck. For instance, Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all had 13 letters in their name. Could it be just mere coincidence?
It’s not known when people began associating the number 13 with bad luck, but there are a number of theories. Some believe it began in biblical times as far back as the Garden of Eden. Supposedly, it was on a Friday Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit. Other biblical events which some hold to have happened or began on a Friday were the Great Flood; destruction of Solomon’s Temple; the Last Supper at which 13 were present and the Crucifixion of Christ.
There are even maritime superstitions connected with Friday. Many seamen believe any ship that sets sail on a Friday is doomed to have bad luck. One legend says the belief was so prevalent during the 1800s in England the British government set out to dispel the myth. It is said a ship was built and named the H.M.S. Friday.
The keel was laid on a Friday, she was launched on a Friday, her crew selected on a Friday and captained by a man named Jim Friday. H.M.S. Friday also embarked on her maiden voyage on a Friday and was never seen again.
The novel The Da Vinci Code describes a catastrophe concerning the Knights Templar a fabled order formed during the Christian Crusades. By the 1300s the order had grown so powerful it became feared as a political threat.
On October 13, 1307, a Friday, officers of King Philip IV of France carried out mass arrests of several thousand Templars shackling them in chains. They were subsequently charged with heresy, blasphemy and various other trumped up charges…none of which were ever proven. But during the seven years following their arrest, hundreds were subjected to excruciating torture or burnt at the stake in order to pry confessions."
References to Friday the 13th as a day of misfortune began showing up in Western literature around the mid 1600s. But, the number's association with Friday didn't take root until the 20th century.The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute says over 800 million dollars are lost every Friday the 13th because of people's fear to conduct any type of business transactions.
Here are a few more Friday the 13th myths:
• If you get a haircut on Friday the 13th, someone in your family will die.
• Any children born on Friday the 13th will have bad luck the rest of their life.
• If a funeral procession passes you on that day you will die next.
Is there any substance to these beliefs? Perhaps, but the next time Friday the 13th rolls around you might want to avoid any men wearing a hockey mask.