Friday, April 13, 2018

Happy "Friday the 13th" - What does it mean? - How did it start? - Triskaidekaphobia? - Paraskevidekatriaphobia?

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Friday the 13th


Friday the 13th 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, which happens at least once every year but can occur up to three times in the same year.[1] In 2017, it occurred twice, on January 13 and October 13. In 2018, it will also occur twice on April 13 and July 13.[1] There will be two Friday the 13ths every year until 2020, where 2021 and 2022 will have just one occurrence, in August and May respectively.

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").[2]

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.[3][4] While there is evidence of both Friday[5] 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.

An early documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards' 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th:

He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday 13th of November he passed away.[9]

It is possible that the publication in 1907 of Thomas W. Lawson's popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth,[10] contributed to disseminating the superstition. In the novel, an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th.[6]

A suggested origin of the superstition—Friday, 13 October 1307, the date Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar—may not have been formulated until the 20th century. It is mentioned in the 1955 Maurice Druon historical novel The Iron King (Le Roi de fer), John J. Robinson's 1989 work Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry, Dan Brown's 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code and Steve Berry's The Templar Legacy (2006).
Tuesday the 13th in Hispanic and Greek culture

In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th (martes trece) is considered a day of bad luck.[13]

The Greeks also consider Tuesday (and especially the 13th) an unlucky day.[14] Tuesday is considered dominated by the influence of Ares, the god of war (Mars in Roman mythology). The fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade occurred on Tuesday, April 13, 1204, and the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans happened on Tuesday, 29 May 1453, events that strengthen the superstition about Tuesday. In addition, in Greek the name of the day is Triti (Τρίτη) meaning the third (day of the week), adding weight to the superstition, since bad luck is said to "come in threes".[14]

Tuesday the 13th occurs on a month starting on Thursday.
Friday the 17th in Italy

In Italian popular culture, Friday the 17th (and not the 13th) is considered a day of bad luck.[15] The origin of this belief could be traced in the writing of number 17, in Roman numerals: XVII. By shuffling the digits of the number one can easily get the word VIXI ("I have lived", implying death in the present), an omen of bad luck.[16] In fact, in Italy, 13 is generally considered a lucky number.[17] However, due to Americanization, young people consider Friday the 13th unlucky as well.[18]

The 2000 parody film Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth was released in Italy with the title Shriek – Hai impegni per venerdì 17? ("Shriek – Do You Have Something to Do on Friday the 17th?").
Friday the 17th occurs on a month starting on Wednesday.
Social impact

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day, making it the most feared day and date in history. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. "It's been estimated that [US]$800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day".[7] Despite this, representatives for both Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines (the latter now merged into United Airlines) have stated that their airlines do not suffer from any noticeable drop in travel on those Fridays.[19]

In Finland, a consortium of governmental and nongovernmental organizations led by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health promotes the National Accident Day (kansallinen tapaturmapäivä) to raise awareness about automotive safety, which always falls on a Friday the 13th.[20] The event is coordinated by the Finnish Red Cross and has been held since 1995.
Rate of accidents

A study in the British Medical Journal, published in 1993, concluded that there "is a significant level of traffic-related incidences on Friday the 13th as opposed to a random day, such as Friday the 6th, in the UK."[22] However, the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics on 12 June 2008 stated that "fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays, because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home. Statistically speaking, driving is slightly safer on Friday the 13th, at least in the Netherlands; in the last two years, Dutch insurers received reports of an average 7,800 traffic accidents each Friday; but the average figure when the 13th fell on a Friday was just 7,500."[23][24]

This sequence, given here for 1900–2099, follows a 28-year cycle from 1 March 1900 to 28 February 2100. The months with a Friday the 13th are determined by the Dominical letter (G, F, GF, etc.) of the year. Any month that starts on a Sunday contains a Friday the 13th, and there is at least one Friday the 13th in every calendar year. There can be as many as three Friday the 13ths in a single calendar year; either in February, March and November in a common year starting on Thursday (such as 2009, 2015 or 2026) (D), or January, April and July in a leap year starting on Sunday (such as 2012) (AG).

The longest period that occurs without a Friday the 13th is 14 months, either from July to September the following year being a common year starting on Tuesday (F) (e.g. 2001/02, 2012/13 and 2018/19), or from August to October the following year being a leap year starting on Saturday (BA) (e.g. 1999/2000 and 2027/28).

The shortest period that occurs with a Friday the 13th is just one month, from February to March in a common year starting on Thursday (D) (e.g. 2009, 2015 and 2026).

Each Gregorian 400-year cycle contains 146,097 days (with 97 leap days) or exactly 20,871 weeks. Therefore, each cycle contains the same pattern of days of the week and thus the same pattern of Fridays that are on the 13th. The 13th day of the month is slightly more likely to be a Friday than any other day of the week.[25][26] On average, there is a Friday the 13th once every 212.35 days, whereas Thursday the 13th occurs only once every 213.59 days.


In the 2010s there were three Friday the 13ths in 2012 and 2015, and two in 2013. There will also be two 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.[27] In the 2020s, there will be three F13's in 2026, and two in 2020, 2023, 2024, 2029, and 2030.[27] The rest of years have at least one F13 if there are fewer than two or three in the 2010s and 2020s.[27] Assuming nothing is changed with the calendar there is never more than three F13s in year.[28] There is a 28-year cycle that repeats when there is a F13 in February, March and November, and the current start of that pattern was in 2009.[28] Although there is at least one F13 per calendar year, it can be as long as 14 months between two F13s.

Triskaidekaphobia (Fear of "Friday the 13th")

Triskaidekaphobia ( /ˌtrɪskaɪˌdɛkəˈfoʊbiə, ˌtrɪskə-/, TRIS-kye-DEK-ə-FOH-bee-ə or TRIS-kə-DEK-ə-FOH-bee-ə; from Greek triskaideka = “thirteen” (tris = “three” + kai = “and” + deka = “ten”) + phobos = “fear”[1]) is fear or avoidance of the number 13. It is also a reason for the fear of Friday the 13th, called paraskevidekatriaphobia (from Παρασκευή Paraskevi, Greek for Friday) or friggatriskaidekaphobia (after Frigg, the Norse goddess after whom Friday is named in English).

The term was used as early as in 1910 by Isador Coriat in Abnormal Psychology.
Judas theory

From the 1890s, a number of English language sources relate the "unlucky" thirteen to an idea that at the Last Supper, Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table.[3] The Bible says nothing about the order in which the Apostles sat, but there were thirteen people at the table. Also, the number 13 is not uniformly bad in the Judeo-Christian tradition. For example, the attributes of God (also called the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy) are enumerated in the Torah (Exodus 34:6–7).
Hammurabi theory

There is a myth that the earliest reference to thirteen being unlucky or evil is in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (circa 1780 BCE), where the thirteenth law is said to be omitted. In fact, the original Code of Hammurabi has no numeration. The translation by L.W. King (1910), edited by Richard Hooker, omitted one article:[5]

If the seller have gone to (his) fate (i. e., have died), the purchaser shall recover damages in said case fivefold from the estate of the seller.

Other translations of the Code of Hammurabi, for example the translation by Robert Francis Harper, include the 13th article.
Events related to unlucky 13

Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970 at 13:13:00 CST and suffered an oxygen tank explosion on April 13 at 21:07:53 CST. It returned safely to Earth on April 17.[7][8]

The Costa Concordia Disaster occurred on Friday 13 January 2012, with the loss of 33 lives.

The November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks took place on Friday 13 November 2015.

On Friday, October 13, 1307, the arrest of the Knights Templar was ordered by Philip IV of France. While the number 13 was considered unlucky, Friday the 13th was not considered unlucky at the time. The incorrect idea that their arrest was related to the phobias surrounding Friday the 13th was invented early in the 21st century and popularized by the novel The Da Vinci Code.[9]

In 1881 an influential group of New Yorkers, led by US Civil War veteran Captain William Fowler, came together to put an end to this and other superstitions. They formed a dinner cabaret club, which they called the Thirteen Club. At the first meeting, on January 13, 1881, at 8:13 p.m., thirteen people sat down to dine in Room 13 of the venue. The guests walked under a ladder to enter the room and were seated among piles of spilled salt. Many Thirteen Clubs sprang up all over North America over the next 40 years. Their activities were regularly reported in leading newspapers, and their numbers included five future US presidents, from Chester A. Arthur to Theodore Roosevelt. Thirteen Clubs had various imitators, but they all gradually faded from interest.[10]

Vehicle registration plates in the Republic of Ireland are such that the first two digits represent the year of registration of the vehicle (i.e., 11 is a 2011 registered car, 12 is 2012, and so on). In 2012, there were concerns among members of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) that the prospect of having "13" registered vehicles might discourage motorists from buying new cars because of superstition surrounding the number thirteen, and that car sales and the motor industry (which was already failing) would suffer as a result. The government, in consultation with SIMI, introduced a system whereby 2013 registered vehicles would have their registration plates' age identifier string modified to read "131" for vehicles registered in the first six months of 2013 and "132" for those registered in the latter six months of the year.
Similar phobias
Number 666 (Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia) or 616 (see Number of the Beast).
Tetraphobia, fear of the number 4. In China, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, as well as in some other East Asian and South East Asian countries, it is not uncommon for buildings (including offices, apartments, hotels) to omit floors with numbers that include the digit 4, and Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia's 1xxx-9xxx series of mobile phones does not include any model numbers beginning with a 4. This originates from Classical Chinese, in which the pronunciation of the word for "four" (四, sì in Mandarin) is very similar to that of the word for "death" (死, sǐ in Mandarin), and remains so in the other countries' Sino-Xenic vocabulary (Korean sa for both; Japanese shi for both; Vietnamese tứ "four" vs. tử "death").
17 is an unlucky number in Italy, perhaps because in Roman numerals 17 is written XVII, which can be rearranged to "VIXI", which in Latin means "I have lived" but can be a euphemism for "I am dead." In Italy, some planes have no row 17 and some hotels have no room 17.[13]
Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th, which is considered to be a day of bad luck in a number of western cultures. In Greece and some areas of Spain and Latin America, Tuesday the 13th is similarly considered unlucky.2
Curse of 39, a belief in some parts of Afghanistan that the number 39 (thrice thirteen) is cursed or a badge of shame.
Lucky 13

In some regions 13 is considered a lucky number. For example, 13 is lucky in Italy except in some contexts, such as sitting at the dinner table.[15] In Cantonese-speaking areas, including Hong Kong and Macau, the number 13 is considered lucky because it sounds similar to the Cantonese words meaning "sure to live" (as opposed to the unlucky number 14 which in Cantonese sounds like the words meaning "sure to die"). Colgate University was started by 13 men with $13 and 13 prayers, so 13 is considered a lucky number. Friday the 13th is the luckiest day at Colgate.[16]

A number of sportspeople are known for wearing the number 13 jersey and performing successfully. In 1966, Portugal achieved their best-ever result at the World Cup final tournaments by finishing third, thanks to a Mozambican-born striker, Eusebio, who has scored nine goals at World Cup — four of them in a 5-3 quarterfinal win over North Korea — and won the Golden Boot award as the tournament’s top scorer while wearing the number 13. In the 1954 and 1974 World Cup finals, Germany’s Max Morlock and Gerd Müller, respectively, played and scored in the final, wearing the number 13.[17] More recently, other top footballers are playing successfully despite wearing #13, including Michael Ballack, Alessandro Nesta, Rafinha, and others.[18] Among other sportspeople who have chosen 13 as squad number, are the Venezuelans Dave Concepción, Omar Vizquel, Oswaldo Guillén and Pastor Maldonado.
Effect on US Shuttle program mission naming

STS-41-G was the name of the thirteenth Space Shuttle flight.[22] However, originally STS-41-C was the mission originally numbered STS-13[23][24] STS-41-C was the eleventh orbital flight of the space shuttle program.[25]

The numbering system of the Space Shuttle was changed to a new one after STS-9.[26] The new naming scheme started with STS-41B, the previous mission was STS-9, and the thirteenth mission (what would have been STS-13) would be STS-41C.[26] The new scheme had first number stand for the U.S. fiscal year, the next number was a launch site (1 or 2), and the next was the number of the mission numbered with a letter for that period.[26] In the case of the actual 13th flight, the crew was apparently not superstitious and made a humorous mission patch that had a black cat on it.[26] Also, that mission re-entered and landed on Friday the 13th which one crew described as being "pretty cool".[26] Because of the way the designations and launch manifest work, the mission numbered STS-13 might not have actually been the 13th to launch as was common throughout the shuttle program; indeed it turned out to be the eleventh.[27][25] One of the reasons for this was when a launch had to be scrubbed, which delayed its mission.[28]

NASA said in a 2016 news article it was due to a much higher frequency of planned launches (pre-Challenger disaster).[26] As it was, the Shuttle program did have a disaster on its one-hundred and thirteenth mission going by date of launch, which was STS-107.[29] The actual mission STS-113 was successful, and had actually launched earlier due to the nature of the launch manifest.[30]

At first glance, it may seem surprising that an agency whose focus lies in science and technology should devote such an emphasis to an ancient superstition.. but for one thing: the unlucky voyage of Apollo 13.

— Tragedy and Triumph in Orbit: The Eighties and Early Nineties By Ben Evans
Famous people with triskaidekaphobia
Arnold Schoenberg
Franklin Roosevelt
Sholom Aleichem
Stephen King

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