Friday, 13 November 2015

It’s Friday the 13th

Do you have friggatriskaidekaphobia

I WOKE up this morning to be greeted by the sound of violent pattering rain against my window. I say greet because I don’t think we’ve had rain in the morning in the western part of the island for the past few weeks. Then I looked at the calendar that hung on the wall. “Oh, Friday the 13th. That is why it is raining so heavily!”

After which, coloured by that inauspicious date, my near fall on my way to work and my broken umbrella led me to ask: “Could this be because it’s Friday the 13th?”.

How did the unlucky connotation attached to Friday the 13th start?

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Friday the 13th: Why Are There Three of These 'Unlucky' Days in 2015?

It's a bad day to be a triskaidekaphobic, or a person who fears the number 13. And today is a particularly unlucky one for superstitious folk because it's not just Friday the 13th, it's the third Friday the 13th of 2015.

Today's inauspicious (or perhaps completely insignificant) date comes on the heels of a Friday the 13th in both February and March of this year. And that's not all. Today is the third and last Friday the 13th of the year, but it's also the final Friday the 13th in a series of seven years, in which three of those years had three Friday the 13ths.

If you need proof of all these unlucky Fridays, just pull up your calendar. In 2009, there were three Friday the 13th dates. The same was true in 2012 and 2015. So what's with all the fearful Fridays of late? Is it really an unlucky streak, or is there a more rational explanation for this phenomenon? Find out more about the science behind Friday the 13th.

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The 13 worst things that have ever happened on Friday the 13th
Jason forgot to check his shoes. Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext Collection/Sportsphoto

While touring an exhibition of Faberge eggs at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art on Friday 13 December 1995, Joshua Dudley received a phone call telling him he had inherited a $3m estate from a deceased uncle. His celebratory dance resulted in $4m in damages.

Walking home from work at a Starbucks in Connecticut on Friday 13 September 2011, Jennifer DeCarlo ducked into an alleyway to avoid the black cat that had darted across her path only to find herself face-to-face with the rabid dog the cat was fleeing.

On Friday 13 May 1980, a dangerous psychopath stalking a group of teenagers through an abandoned summer camp dramatically burst in on two young lovers only to realize too late that he’d left the house that morning wearing mismatched shoes.

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Friday the 13th

Also known as Black Friday, is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition. It occurs when the 13th day of the month in the Gregorian calendar falls on a Friday.

The fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name: "triskaidekaphobia"; and on analogy to this the fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning "Friday"), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning "thirteen")

The superstition surrounding this day may have arisen in the Middle Ages, "originating from the story of Jesus' last supper and crucifixion" in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday. While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century.

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