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The History Behind Friday the 13th

Ever wonder what's behind the superstitions? Do you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia?

If you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia, today is reason enough to climb back under the covers and forget about the world. And you’re not alone –according to the History Channel, between 17 and 21 million people suffer from the fear of Friday the 13th and this year, that fear will become a reality not once, but three times in 2012 with the day falling in January, April and July.

The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina reports that between 800 and 900 million dollars is lost on Friday the 13th alone because workers will not fly or follow normal routines because of a paralyzing fear of Friday the 13th. But where does this fear come from?

There are several historical explanations for the fear of the number 13. One explanation points to the Last Supper, noting that Judas was the 13th guest to arrive at the table. Another points to a 19th century superstition of never having 13 guests sitting at a dinner table because the first one to leave was sure to die (according to superstition.)

Other superstitions lead to the Code of Hammurabi, which was enacted without a 13th law, or the fact that that the number 12 symbolizes completion (baker’s dozen, 12 signs in the Zodiac).

Friday was also the day that Jesus was crucified and that the Eve gave Adam the forbidden Apple, according to the Bible. Popular culture suggests that the bestseller written by Thomas Lawson in 1907 depicting the fall of Wall Street on Friday the 13th and the 1980s Friday the 13th horror movie series didn’t help.

So how does this superstition continue to affect the public year after year? Here are several examples as provided by the Huffington Post. Click the link for even crazier connections to this day.

  • Many hospitals and hotels do not have a Room number 13
  • Many cities and towns do not have a 13th street
  • If you have thirteen letters in your name (example: murderer and cult leader Charles Manson) you’re said to have “the devil’s luck”
  • Many airport skip the 13th gate
  • Many airplanes have no 13th aisle
  • 80 percent of high rise buildings do not have a 13th floor
  • On streets in Florence, Italy, the house between number 12 and 14 is addressed as 12 and a half.
  • When someone is hanged, there are traditionally 13 knots in the noose and 13 steps leading to the to the moment of death

Do you suffer from a fear of Friday the 13th? Or is the world overreacting? 

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