Should I Be Scared?

Holy moly, everyone, it’s Friday the 13th.  For the superstitious-minded, that can only mean one thing: bad luck.  However, while I have before encountered unfortunate circumstances on this date, I can only attribute it to coincidence. (Even the time I got my nose bloodied by a six year old wielding a stick on Friday the 13th, but that’s another story…)  I can’t afford to be superstitious.  We have two black cats in our house.

In fact, Friday the 13th’s have come and gone without my noticing them.  But when I do notice the date approaching, I make note of it, at least in the same way I read my horoscope out of occasional curiosity.  I headed to Wikipedia today to do some quick research, and they have a fascinating article on the subject, including some theories on the origin of the superstition.  However, one of the main things I think is cool is the word friggatriskaidekaphobia, or fear of Friday the 13th.  This word is so awesome it must be used, even if it isn’t as long as pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

I also found it interesting that in Hispanic countries and in Greece, Tuesday the 13th is considered unlucky instead, and in Italian popular culture, it’s Friday the 17th.  But more importantly, here’s what I find ridiculous about the whole affair: according to a National Geographic article, it’s estimated that 800 to 900 million U.S. dollars is lost in business on Friday the 13th due to people not interacting and making transactions as they normally would.  That’s crazy.  That’s a ton of money.  Also, and we must be careful not to equate causation with correlation, but the Dutch Center for Insurance Statistics reported in 2008 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.”  So really it’s not as unlucky as you might think.

And it would also do to point out that over each 400 year Gregorian cycle, the chances of the 13th being a Friday are higher than any other day of the week.  It’s not uncommon at all, really.  We just tend to notice it more.

So that’s all.  Just a little rant about the fixations of the friggatriskaidekaphobic.  It’s always interesting the things we as humans come up with, superstitions, etc.  Well, actually maybe it’s not surprising, but it is surprising that such superstitions pervade our society up to the present day.  Please, if you’re afraid of Friday the 13th, don’t be.  I promise you everything will go just fine.  And have this clip of Popeye the Sailor I thought of today.  Ah, old cartoons.  Bye for now.