Now I can understand a little bit of how those that have paraskevidekatriaphobia must feel like. If so many negative things happen in your life on a particular day and it just coincidentally keeps on happening, then paranoia may set in. Fear motivates a lot of superstitions. But this is a far cry from phobia--a persistent fear that can alter a person's life, even if he or she knows that it's irrational. Friday the 13th is special. It combines Friday--considered an unlucky day by some--with the number 13, which has long been considered bad news. Maybe you never thought of Friday as unlucky. Friday's often payday for us working stiffs. It's the start of the weekend. There's even a TGIFriday's restaurant! Friday is also the Muslim Sabbath and is the day for religious gatherings.
But Friday also carries negative connotations. For starters, Eve is rumored to have given Adam the apple on a Friday. And the number 13 has been feared for a long time, too----except in Italy, where "Fare tredici!" or "To make thirteen!" is the slogan of the national lottery. There, if you get a thirteen, you win.
Some societies have done seemingly extreme things in the name of luck and superstition. Take the Aztecs, who would toss a still-beating human heart into a sacred fire to appease the gods. Have you ever wondered why carrying rabbits' feet is considered to be lucky - for everyone except the rabbit that is?
It is a fact that about 90 percent of Otis elevators don't have a button for the 13th floor. The U.S. Navy won't even launch a ship on Friday the 13th! And, as a former flight attendant friend once told me, many people just won't fly on the 13th, unless they're headed to Las Vegas. Apparently, the unluckiest day has an opposite effect when you're gambling. And the fear is historic: A Norse myth has it that a great dinner party with 12 guests was ruined when a 13th crashed the event and killed the god of joy and gladness. There were also 13 guests at the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, who was crucified on a Friday. Finally, a correctly tied hangman's noose has 13 knots, and executions used to happen on Fridays.
So, it's no wonder that we sometimes make a big deal out of Friday the 13th. Even today, when we're steeped in science and technology and know a great deal about how the world works, there are still a lot of believers. For most people, Friday the 13th probably means taking minor precautions. Like avoiding black cats. Other wacky precautions: stand on your head and swallow a chunk of beef gristle, take a holey sock to the top of a skyscraper or a mountain, walk around the block with a mouthful of water--and be careful not to swallow it, tie a sack of peony seeds around your neck (not too tight, though) and the like.
I can live with the fact that some of my friends have their own idiosyncracies. I don't think I'd be okay with someone who is so supersitious that everything that person does is governed by horoscopes, moon cycles, superstition and what-have-you. At the end of the day, you have to take control and not let fear rule your life. And pray. It helps put a positive spin at the start of the day. Only then will you be able to enjoy all the beautiful and good things life has to offer.