Friday the Thirteenth

Today is Friday, January the thirteenth.

The minute you hear those words, the temptation to cover your head with a pillow and hold it there seems overwhelming. Of course, if you held it too tightly, your fear would became a self-fulfilling prophesy.

According to Asheville, North Carolina’s Stress Management and Phobia Institute, almost 21 million people in the United States alone suffer from the fear of Friday the thirteenth. It even has a name: friggatriskaidekaphobia in Norse or paraskevidekatriaphobia in Greek. They both mean Friday the thirteenth scares the bejeezus out of you.

It also makes me wonder if the French refer to it as vendrediletreiziemephobia and the Italians as venerditrediciphobia, but that’s just my feeble wanderings.

But why all the drama about Fridays and the number thirteen?

Numerology is to blame (or credit – depending on your point of view) for this stigma on poor old number thirteen. Apparently, its sibling – the number twelve – is perfect. Sound familiar to anybody?

Twelve represents completeness, wholeness. There are twelve hours on a clock, twelve months in a year, twelve Apostles, twelve tribes of Israel. Twelve people dining together is ideal – add one more and someone must die. Go back to friggatriskaidekaphobia or the Norse fear for that superstition.

And the Knights Templar weren’t fans of Friday 13th either as they were imprisoned on this day. I can commiserate as I was hit in the eye with a rubber band on Friday 13th.

I hear you snickering. Stop it! Ever had a scratched cornea? Not so funny now is it? Swollen, puffy, requiring a trip to eye doctor and numbing drops.

Of course, hoteliers understand this whole phobia business. Get on an elevator and try to find the thirteenth floor. It’s bizarrely missing. I used to think there was a huge gap between the twelfth floor and the fourteenth – like stilts holding the top of the hotel apart from the bottom. I asked often why there was no thirteenth floor. As a kid, I assumed if I knew how to count, the people who designed the entire structure I was staying in should be at least equally as smart as me. I don’t think my parents knew how to answer.

Mother, “Go ask your father.”
Father, “How the bleep am I supposed to know why people don’t want a thirteenth floor?”

He was an engineer.

He also had trouble answering my Etch-a-sketch question. It was simple really. I just asked, “Dad, how does this work?”

He didn’t have time for me then, and by then, I mean there were probably thirty people in our house and it was Christmas. He was trying to help my mother – rarity as that was.

Dad: “Try to figure it out for yourself.”

To this day I don’t know why I got punished. I was only doing as I was told. I was just trying to figure it out. So what if I took a hammer to the Etch-a-sketch? So what if it wasn’t mine? I don’t understand. You probably don’t understand how I ended up talking about toys and Christmas. Here’s the beauty of it. It’s Friday the thirteenth. I can do anything and blame it on Frigga – the Norse name for Friday.

So there you have it, my explanation for Friday the thirteenth phobia – that’s the English version. But don’t worry if you forgot to stress out about this one. In thirteen weeks, you’ll have another chance to be frightened over Friday the thirteenth. And in another thirteen, you’ll have another chance still. How odd is that?

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  1. Hi,
    Loved the post, I couldn’t help but laugh.
    Friday the 13th used to be just another Friday to me until a few years ago someone stole my car, now I hate Friday the 13th. 😆
    It’s Saturday the 14th here in Australia, and I got through the 13th without any dramas. 🙂

    1. I’m so glad to hear from you and know that you survived unscathed. Whew! You lucky Aussies get a head start on outrunning it! Just rode up to get a sandwich with my husband and on the way we passed a scene where the police and a wrecker were trying to right an overturned truck. No sign of another car or black marks. There were tracks off the shoulder, but other than that it appeared to have just overturned. I murmured to myself about Frigga as we passed.

  2. Renee, you clearly still suffer from lack of sleep (that which you are currently depriving me off). I was in a state of dreamy calm when you made me laugh. Laughter being a stimulant is not conducive to snooze.

    There is a remedy to frigging Friday: Live, like me, one day ahead. On Tuesday I thought it was Wednesday.. On Wednesday I thought it was Thursday. Don’t ask. The consequences were less than hilarious. Which means that tomorrow (Saturday) is – in my calendar – the 13th. At least I have avoided the deadly combo. And – taking into account this year’s leap – with a bit of luck on 1 March I shall be back on course.


    PS On the whole I try and avoid Floor 14 or Room 14. It doesn’t take Einstein, does it, to work out where you REALLY are.

    1. Ursula you are clever indeed. They think they can outsmart us by calling the thirteenth floor by another name, but we have clearly caught on. I love your idea of living a day ahead. I once lived a year ahead. I thought I was 27 all year. On my actual 27th birthday my sister reminded me that I had only just turned 27. So I tell everybody she once gave me an extra year.

  3. Hahahahaa!!! “…add one more and someone must die”. Hahahaha!
    Never gave the #13 or even Friday the 13th a second thought.
    I was born on the 12th, so does this mean that I ought’a consider myself complete and whole and stop stressing now? 😉 Just being a smarty pants here. Great post Renee!

    1. Dianna, I knew the minute I saw your lovely blog, gorgeous horses, and enviable life, that you were probably someone’s perfect sibling. It is now confirmed. I was born on the fourteenth, barely missing the thirteenth. Whew! Glad you got a laugh out of this one. I enjoyed writing it.

  4. Interesting – I’ve never been particularly bothered by Friday, the 13th. Funny you mentioned the Knights Templar. Marshall was explaining that to me this evening as we were returning from dinner!

    1. MJ, that’s probably the very sensible Canadian side of you. Growing up in the south, I could – and may – do a whole segment on superstitions and phobias. There’s a reason most Gothic novels are based in the South and I guess it’s all part of our history and charm. But in case you don’t know about it – you should always put your right shoe on first. Just saying…

  5. So that’s why I’m acting crazy today, mood swings and all! My co-worker told me last night, “it’s friday the 13.” I was tired and it didn’t hit me what she meant. I just said, “oh, okay…” Today, nothing seems to make sense….then I realized it’s Freaking Friday the 13th. So much for my excuses. I agree with you, most of fear and phobias we all created…may be it was just a coincidence that something bad happened on this day …or a horror movie was created because of it but there were past friday the 13th that luck came my way. I passed my boards on this day as well as my U.S. immigrant interview. Both I passed with flying colors! Great post and thanks….

    1. So glad you turned it into a good luck day! I imagine it just gives us all something to blame unfortunaate events on. I understand the immigration interview is tough, so congratulations! That’s no small thing.

  6. Great post. I enjoyed it very much. I loved the etch-a-sketch story. It sounds to me like you have the mind of an engineer too. lol
    Thanks for sharing all them words, wow they’re soooo big. lol The fear of the 13 in whatever it’s association is a curiosity to be sure.
    Oddly enough, in cooking, a bakers-dozen is the desired amount to have in cookies and such. It’s always nice to have the spare in case you mess up one of the dozen or if you want to taste your bake-goods.

  7. Giggling here late at night after driving and riding all over central California all day with my daughter (scary driver) and granddaughter (in the back seat with a sore throat), then my half awake drive home to the mountains, hours later than I had expected. I’m glad I didn’t remember it was the 13th while it was happening. Granddaughter is leaving for her semester abroad in Ghana tomorrow.

    1. Glad you got a chuckle out of it Lee. I knew the minute I saw those long phobia words, it had to be a humorous post. That being said, those suffering from a real fear of it may not find it so funny. I guess I should have added an apology to any offended by my jest. Oh well.

      Your granddaughter sounds like a smart young lady – as does your entire family by the way. You must be very proud of them.

    1. Hey, that could be the next humorous post! Appaently, the thirteenth is unlucky – whatever day it falls on. I’ve never been to Spain, but it is definitely on my list of places to visit. I hear it is absolutely lovely there.

  8. I think I would have also taken a hammer to the Etch-a-Sketch. Great post with a wealth of information to store in my brain and share with others. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the validation. I stand by that decision. How else would you figure it out? How else did my father think I would figure it out? At least I knew where to find a hammer – not bad for a child. Also, part of the warning. Hey, parents, your kids know where the hammer is. Think about it before you encourage them to do things on their own. LOL

  9. Having grown up in France I can say I’ve never heard that term lol Hope your Friday the 13th was good. Funny my brother always took my stuff apart to see how it worked too.

  10. What interesting information about all those 13s and 12s. It has never really bothered me but I do stay mindful it may affect others. Now when it comes to a full moon, my unscientific experience in the classroom for 30+ years will tell you there certainly is something to that magnetic pull.

    1. I have heard that full moons have a definite effect on births, accidents, and overall lunacy. But doesn’t lunacy come from the root of the word ‘luna’ for moon? You are probably onto something there Georgette.

      1. I’d say you are on to something. haha Never made the connection between lunar and lunacy. I love that I finally have the time after 30+ yrs. of lunacy to gradually put these things together. Ahhh…slowing down, I love it.

  11. I am smiling because, I forgot it was Friday the 13th until it was Saturday the 14th. Hope all was well for you.

    Thank you for the beautiful comment to (my) yesterday’s blog.

  12. I’ve always wanted to see what was inside an Etch-a-sketch and now that you’ve broken one, can you tell me? Great post; love your humor. Luckily, yesterday was an uneventful day for me. 😉

    1. Glad to hear you don’t suffer from any Friday the 13th phobias. As for the Etch-a-sketch, I remember the insides being full of gray dusty matter. Yikes. My family didn’t get my humor or my intense curiosity. Oh well….

  13. Friday the thirteenth is lucky in France, the lottery is always sky high on those days, and there are two more Friday the Thirteenths this year! My god daughter had a baby girl this Friday 13th so I reckon it is pretty lucky…

  14. Interesting post, as always! I’ve never made a big deal of Friday the 13th. Some years ago I was told that 13 is a number associated with goddesses in goddess worship and mythology. So, for me, with my strong feminist leanings and my yearning for female spiritual models and interest in female spirituality, the number 13 became an attractive number. I just now googled “goddess mythology and the number 13,” but didn’t turn up much, except to find in Wikipedia that Friday is named after the Norse goddess, Frigga–from which the word friggatriskaidekaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th, as you noted) is constructed. So, perhaps 13 is not so much associated with goddess mytholgoy. I’ll have to do more research!

  15. Is it true that tall buildings don’t have a thirteenth floor? I never remember to look. It’s hard to understand how we can still be that superstitious.

    1. But Ursula and I have already figured out that then the fourteenth floor is actually #13. They can’t trick us – we’re on to them. Thanks for commenting.

  16. Ha! But here’s the scary part. Reading your blog unearthed a “ticked off” memory. I too remember doing “kid things” asking my parents questions and getting lambasted for my nuisance. Even as a kid, I knew I was a stellar child doing only typically brilliant inquisitive things…trying to go where no child had gone before. Now I’ll forever associate Fri. 13th with a crappy childhood…unless…unless…I can have 13 margaritas and then I won’t care. Would you like to join me? Let’s go in Mags3 car.

    1. Never tell an inquisitive child to find out something by themselves. They will try and you won’t like it – normally. Sounds like we sufferred from similar instances. I would love to join you for a baker’s dozen of margaritas. I even make a mean watermelon version. Yum!

  17. All those thirteens lining up like that must be why the world will come to an end this year! Did you ever solve the riddle of the etch-a-sketch? Those things fascinated me, too.

    1. Riddle not exactly solved – as I recall – a little ball and lots of gray ashy matter. Oh well – as noted – I did not become an engineer or scientist in any measure of the word. I’ll stick to words.

  18. Do you really believe in superstition Renee? This one is an interesting & funny post. 🙂
    I am not too much worried about this 13th. For me it’s one more day in the calender. I wonder, what if a person has his child’s birth day on the same day. Then for him/her this day is going to be the best day of his life.

  19. Oh Gosh Arindam, I’m from the southern part of the US – where all good superstitions come to have new life breathed into them. Surely you have some in India as well – seeing an elephant is good luck maybe? A bride enters with right foot first? Please share some of yours. I don’t take them too literally, but I do put my right shoe on first every morning. Just a habit. One of them has to be first – might as well not tempt fate.

    1. Yes, superstitions are somehow part of our culture. I can write a post on them. You are absolutely right, A bride enters with a specific foot first. But I am not sure if it is right or left. Tomorrow when I will call my mom, I am going to ask her about this one for sure. But I am sure this question is going to make her laugh. I never wear anything which is completely black, and it’s not a habit, it’s a superstition. 🙂

      1. I love this Arindam and can hardly wait for the wisdom of you mother. I remember your blog about her and how wise she is, so this should be interesting. She probably recalls many that weren’t passed on to you. Please, please share.

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