Superstitions Amok: Friday the 13th Brings Out the Most Irrational of Fears

Some people are naturally superstitious. Others pay little attention to curses, hexes, jinxes, voodoo, broken mirrors, spilled salt, the occult or any misfortune causing force. But even the most non-superstitious individual takes pause at Friday the 13th, particularly when its October 13th. Let’s take a peek at the some of the notable and more bizarre superstitions that accompany the “holiday.”
Triskaidekaphobia: This is the fear of the No. 13 itself. It’s not surprising that many people shy away from the number.  It’s closely associated with the vastly successful Friday the 13th movie series and the omnipresent slashing knife of villain Jason Voorhees. What is surprising is that there is an actual term to describe this fear. Many shy away from 13 at all costs. Whether it’s avoiding it as a uniform number, opting against buying a house with the number in the address or just plain creeping out whenever they see it. Others, in a contrarian move, embrace the number and instead believe it offers good luck.
Fear of the day itself: According to a study by British publication Mirror, the 14th most common fear among Brits is “Worried about Friday the 13th approaching.” Avoiding the number 13 – ahem, triskaidekaphobia – ranked No. 15 and fear of the No. 666 ranked 17th. The top three on the list were walking under a ladder, knocking on wood and blessing someone after they sneeze. Ranking last on the list of 30 was never giving gloves as a present. Hmm.
Oh, and there’s actually a term for fear of Friday the 13th, too. Make sure to include it in your phone’s dictionary, because it’s probably not there: paraskevidekatriaphobia.
If you cut your hair on Friday the 13th, you will die: Perhaps that new style or trim can wait until the weekend. You know, just in case. Many also avoid beginning a trip on this day.  It’s a popular myth that if a funeral procession passes you on Friday the 13th, you will be the next to die. Others believe that any child born on Friday the 13th is essentially brought into the world under hex – as if that child had a choice.
While it’s difficult to point to the origin of Friday the 13th fears before pop culture exacerbated them, they have become a staple of society. According to National Geographic, behavioral scientist Jane Risen of University of Chicago Booth School of Business discovered that superstitions can even influence nonbelievers. Risen found many believe they can jinx themselves by talking about something, such as stating they’ll not get into a car wreck.
That, too, trends into pop culture. Baseball is the most superstitious of sports. Baseball players believe talking about a teammate’s no-hitter while it’s happening will undoubtedly jinx it. When the opposing team gets that first hit, blame is assigned to the player who brought it up. Watch out NY Yankees & Houston Astros in your game this evening….
Now go enjoy your day, if you dare. Remember the black cat that sauntered in front of you was no different than a tan dog doing the same. Just keep telling yourself that.
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