This morning, when I was thinking about writing my blog post, it dawned on me that I have written all types of holiday posts, but never a post about Friday the 13th. Yes, both friggatriskaidekaphobia and paraskevidekatriaphobia are words that mean “fear of Friday the 13th.”
Friggatriskaidekaphobia comes from Frigg, the Norse goddess of wisdom (after whom Friday is named) and the Greek words triskaideka, meaning 13, and phobia, meaning fear. Paraskevidekatriaphobia comes from paraskeví, which means Friday, and dekatria, 13, also from the Greek.
Here are some interesting things about Friday the 13th:
1.This may be the origin of the fear: Jesus was crucified on a Friday. It is believed that 13 guests attended the Last Supper the night before Jesus was killed. The disciple who betrayed Jesus, Judas, is believed to have been the 13th guest.
2. It is not really a “dangerous day.” A study published in 2011 found that there’s no link between Friday the 13th and an increase of emergency room visits.
3. Viva Las Vegas wedding chapel offers three different packages on Friday the 13th: zombie, vampire, and “Rocky Horror”-themed ceremonies.
4. A NASA report says a large asteroid will fly close enough to the Earth to be visible without a telescope in Africa, Europe, and Asia on Friday, April 13, 2029.
5. Taylor Swift has a special connection with the number 13: “I was born on the 13th. I turned 13 on Friday the 13th. My first album went gold in 13 weeks. My first No. 1 song had a 13-second intro,” the singer told MTV in a 2009 interview.
6. The first documented mention of the day can be found in a biography of Italian composer Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th.
7. Experts say that fear of Friday the 13th affects millions of people and estimate that businesses, especially airlines, suffer from severe losses on this day.
8. Triskaidekaphobia, or the fear of the number 13 is even more widespread. Many high-rise buildings, hotels, and hospitals (and this blog post) skip the 13th floor, and many airports do not have gates numbered 13. In many parts of the world, having 13 people at the dinner table is considered bad luck.
9. All years will have at least one Friday the 13th. The good news is that there cannot be more than three Friday the 13ths in any given calendar year. The longest you can go without seeing a Friday the 13th is 14 months.
10. For a month to have a Friday the 13th, the month must begin on a Sunday.
11. Three Friday the 13ths can occur in a leap year as well. If January 1 of a leap year falls on a Sunday, the months of January, April, and July will each have a Friday the 13th.
12. Alfred Hitchcock was born on the 13th. The master of suspense was born on August 13, 1899 – so Friday, August 13, 1999 would have been his 100th birthday. He made his directorial debut in 1922 with a movie called Number 13.
14. Friday the 13th is not universally seen as a day of misery. In Italy, Friday the 17th and not Friday the 13th is considered to be a day that brings bad luck. In fact, the number 13 is considered to be a lucky number!
15.In many Spanish-speaking countries and in Greece, Tuesday the 13th is seen as a day of misfortune.
16. Many studies have shown that Friday the 13th has little or no effect on events like accidents and natural disasters.
17. The commercially successful Friday the 13th enterprise includes 12 horror movies, a television series, and several books that focus on curses and superstitions. Even though the films and the television series consistently received negative reviews from critics, they have a huge following.
18. Since 1995, Finland has dedicated one Friday the 13th in a year to observe National Accident Day. The day aims to raise awareness about safety — on the roads, at home, and in the workplace.
19. In the United States alone, it is estimated that between 17 and 21 million people dread that date to the extent that it can be officially classified as a phobia.
20. Adam and Eve were purported to have died on the then-nonexistent “Friday.”
21. Most of the pleasure-boats make their first voyage for the season on Good Friday.
22. The name “Friday” was chosen in honor of the Norse goddess Frigg, also known as Freyja, who was the multitalented goddess of love, beauty, wisdom, war, death, and magic. Teutonic people are thought to have considered the day extremely unlucky, especially for weddings, due in part to the lovely goddess the day was named for. Later, the Christian church attempted to demonize the goddess, so that may or may not be a contributing factor as well.
23. The notion that Friday was popularly considered unlucky among the masses doesn’t seem to have popped up until around the mid-17th century. Within the next two centuries after that, the idea continued to spread and by the 19th century was nearly ubiquitous in certain cultures.
24. It is considered incredibly bad luck to have 13 people sitting at a table for dinner, which supposedly is due to the fact that Judas Iscariot was by tradition the 13th person to be seated to dine at the Last Supper. The Hindus also believed that it was bad luck for 13 people to gather together for any purpose at the same time.
25. According to the old Norse myth, 12 gods were feasting at the banquet hall at Valhalla, when Loki, the god of Mischief, showed up uninvited. This, of course, brought the count of gods up to the dreaded number of 13. Loki then encouraged Hod, the blind god of winter and darkness, to murder Balder the Good with a spear of mistletoe, throwing all of Valhalla into mourning, and once again providing another example of a story in history that congregating with 13 for dinner is a bad idea.
26.In goddess-worshipping cultures, the number 13 was often revered, as it represented the number of lunar and menstrual cycles that occur annually. It is believed by those who adhere to this theory that as the 12-month solar calendar came into use over the 13-month lunar calendar, the number 13 itself became suspect.
27. The Ancient Egyptians believed life was a spiritual journey that unfolded in stages. They believed that 12 of those stages occurred in this life, but the last, the 13th, was a joyous transformative ascension to an eternal afterlife. So the number 13 represented death to the Egyptians, but not death as in decay and fear, but as acknowledgement of a glorious eternal life.
28. Others point to the last day of King Harold II’s reign on Friday, October 13, 1066. William of Normandy gave him the opportunity to relinquish his crown, which he refused. The next day William took it by force at the Battle of Hastings, causing Harold’s demise. Again, it is a modern idea that this is where the first “Friday the 13th is the ultimate unlucky day” notion came about.
29.William Fowler formed a club known as “The Thirteen Club” in which club members would meet in groups of 13 to dine, with their first ever get together occurring, of course, Friday the 13th in January of 1881. To thumb their noses even further at the fates, they had club members walk under a ladder before sitting down to a table in room 13 of the building they were in. They also made sure there was plenty of spilled salt on the table before they dined.
30. The Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics in 2008 attempted to prove that Friday the 13th was no different from any other day. They found Friday the 13th is actually a slightly safer day to drive than other days, at least using two years’ worth of data from 2006-2008 in the Netherlands. In that span, there were an average of 7,500 traffic accidents on days that were both Friday and the 13th of the month. On Fridays that didn’t line up with the 13th, there were an average of 7,800 accidents each day. Their theory is simply that, due to the phobia, fewer people drive on Friday the 13th and people are more careful when they have to. They also found similar trends with reported fires and crimes, with fewer happening on Fridays that coincide with the 13th day of the month.
And now you know more about Friday the 13th, Fridays, and 13s, than you ever imagined you would! Have a Happy Friday the 13th!
Thank you to my sources: If you would like to read more, here are the links.
Grammar Diva News:
My new book, the Second Edition of The Best Little Grammar Book Ever! will be available for resale on Kindle in a couple of days. It will be out in paperback next month as well. The second edition of the book has been reformatted and updated with new grammar standards and additional information, including an expanded section on comma use (yay!). The book is the first in a series of Best Little Grammar Books. The second will be The Best Little Grammar Workbook Ever! and the third is The Best Little Book of Confused Words and Phrases Ever! Both of these books should be out by the end of the summer.
I will be launching the paperback edition of the book on August 6 with a workshop at Petaluma Copperfield’s.