Fearing Friday The 13th

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(Image by Greg Williams/ CC BY-SA 2.5)

Millions of people have a fear of Friday the 13th.
The good news for them is that Friday the 13th came only once this year, in August. The even better news is that between now and January of 2023, they only have to worry about one more Friday the 13th, in May of 2022. Of course, they suffered through three of them in 2015, but that trifecta won’t happen again until 2026.
Like any other fear, this one has a name that would make you a winner in almost any Scrabble game. If you have a fear of Friday the 13th, you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia or paraskevidekatriaphobia, your choice.
There is nothing irrational when it comes to fearing something. I’m a grown man, and I still have a fear of bugs. To this day, when I shut off the basement light, I go up the stairs just a little bit quicker than when I went down them. If you feel uncomfortable on Friday the 13th, so be it. Any Friday is always a good day to stay home, and what better excuse can you use?

Thanks to the friggatriskaidekaphobists, many businesses, especially airlines, suffer severe losses when Friday the 13th rolls around. If you don’t fear Friday the 13th, maybe that would be a good day to book your next flight? My Jewish friends have told me the best day to go to the movies is Christmas.
Many more people suffer from the fear of just the number 13 (Triskaidekaphobia), so much so that you’d be hard-pressed to find any high-rise building with a 13th floor. Have you ever been to an airport with a Gate 13? Probably not.

Personally, I never understood not having a 13th floor in a building. I worked on the 14th floor in a Manhattan building for many years. Regardless of the number displayed on the elevator button, it’s still the 13th floor from the street.
In many countries, having 13 people at the dinner table is considered unlucky. Just look at what happened on Friday after Jesus and his 12 Disciples attended The Last Supper. In Italy, the number 13 is deemed to be lucky. It’s Friday the 17th, they fear. If you live in Greece or most Spanish-speaking countries, Tuesday the 13th is a day of misfortune, not Friday the 13th.

Ahh, but what about you?
You may poo-poo those that suffer from friggatriskaidekaphoba, but we all do plenty of irrational things to avoid bad luck. You can call them superstitions or fears, but I’ll bet you wouldn’t purposely walk under a ladder. There are not a lot of folks are opening an umbrella indoors, right? My Italian mother constantly yells at me if I put a pair of shoes on the table. After watching the movie The Omen, I get the willies if I see the number “666” on anything. I’ve added a word or two in many of my columns if I notice the word count at exactly “666.” There is no need to tempt fate, is there?

Go ask anyone from the 1969 Chicago Cubs. They had a 10-game lead on the New York Mets until a black cat walked in front of their dugout at Shea Stadium. The rest is sports history. I’ve seen plenty of seemingly rational people throw salt over their right shoulder if they spill a saltshaker. The list is endless.
Unlike when there is a full moon, virtually no evidence shows Friday the 13th to be an unlucky day. Accidents, hospital visits and natural disasters have nothing in common with Friday the 13th. However, ask any Emergency Room worker about what happens when there is a full moon, though.

Take heed all you friggatriskaidekaphobists. Stay home if you must and don’t let the naysayers influence you. Just know you can breathe a sigh of relief until May of 2022.

Paul DiSclafani’s new book, A View From The Bench, is a collection of his favorite Long Island Living columns. It’s available wherever books are sold.

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