Superstition: Essential Facts About Friday the 13th

Popular Culture

Friday the 13th is considered unlucky in many cultures. Some people even avoid travelling on this day. But why is Friday the 13th considered unlucky – and what do you call someone with a morbid fear of it?

Friday the 13th is considered unlucky in many cultures, and someone with a morbid fear of it is considered to suffer from triskaidekaphobia, paraskevidekatriaphobia, or friggatriskaidekaphobia. Quite a mouthful, but don’t worry! A pronunciation guide follows.

Fear of the number 13 has an obscure origin, but many scholars believe the superstition revolves around the Last Supper.

First of all, Judas, who betrayed Jesus Christ, was the 13th person at the table. Not only that, the Last Supper held on the 13th day of the month (according to the calendar used at the time), and it was a a Friday. Is that why Friday the 13th came to be associated with bad luck?

At least 2 US presidents suffered from triskaidekaphobia: Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Roosevelt’s morbid phobia regarding the number 13 was so strong, in fact, that he refused to host dinner parties with 13 guests and refused to travel on the 13th day of any month – even if it wasn’t a Friday.

Many buildings in the United States used to skip the 13th floor, some hotels didn’t have rooms numbered 13, and some airlines didn’t use the number 13 in their flight numbers. But such practices are no longer as common as they used to be.

Traffic Accidents

The British Medical Journal conducted a study on traffic accidents. According to the results, the number of traffic accidents occurring on Friday the 13th was, indeed, significantly higher than on other random dates.

Is this because Friday the 13th really is unlucky or should it be attributed to the nervousness the date causes among superstitious drivers suffering from friggatriskaidekaphobia?

According to a British newspaper, one in 20 people won’t leave the house on Friday the 13th, and one in 10 people won’t travel.

Effects on Air Travel

While many people claim that they will not travel on Friday the 13th,  Delta Airlines in the United States insists that there is no drop in airline bookings on the inauspicious date.

But there could be explanation. According to some travel websites, Friday the 13th is one of the cheapest days to travel. Do airlines discount fares to offset the effects of superstition on bookings?

Pronunciation Guide

There are at least 3 scientific terms to describe someone suffering from an abnormal fear of Friday the 13th, and at first they appear to be quite a mouthful. Not to worry. I show you how to pronounce them below  …

  • Triskaidekaphobia – (TRIS-kye-DECK-uh-FOH-bee-uh) from Greek, combining triskaideka (13) with phobia (morbid fear);
  • Paraskevidekatriaphobia – (PAIR-uh-SKEH-vee-DECK-uh-TREE-uh-FOH-bee-yuh ) from the Greek, combining paraskevi (Friday) and dekatreis (13) with phobia;
  • Friggatriskaidekaphobia – (FRIG-uh-TRISK-eye-DECK-uh-FOH-bee-uh) from Old Norse and the Greek, combing friggatriskaideka (Friday the 13th) with phobia.

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