Beware---it is Friday the 13th.

via istock There is no real rhyme or reason as to why Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day but the fear of the day is common enough to have earned its own phobia labeled as  friggatriskaidekaphobia.  For those who believe it is unlucky, they site the Bible and the last Supper as proof.  Others prefer to find the number 13 in things like the number of letters in the names of notorious criminals, the date well-known tragedies took place, etc. as legitimate proof of the unlucky status the number represents.

The simple truth is that this date is cyclical and occurs no more than three times a year. For example, it occurs just once in 2014 (today) and three times in 2015.  One way to know if the year has a Friday the 13th is to find the months that begin on a Sunday and there will be a Friday the 13th in that month.

Unlike other superstitions like walking under a ladder or having a black cat cross your path, you are unable to avoid the pitfalls, so to speak, of a Friday the 13th as it is going to happen no matter what.  Here are some fun facts that you might find interesting or spooky, depending on whether you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia or not.

  • Our 32nd president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, is thought to have been superstitious as he made every attempt to avoid traveling on Friday the 13th, or any 13th day for that matter.
  • It is no real secret that hotels and tall office buildings do not label the 13th floor with the number 13...they simply skip it and jump right to 14.  Do you think that those who have a phobia are aware that they are on the 13th floor anyway?  The number is also avoided in room numbers, meeting rooms etc.
  •  Many airlines avoid a row 13 so if you are unsure, start counting when you board, especially if you are in row 14!  They also show a drop in ticket sales on any  13th day, but especially on Friday the 13th.
  • In some cultures the number 13 is actually considered lucky, especially in ancient Egypt where it was associated with immortality.
  • The french are so superstitious that in the early 20th century you were able to actually hire a fourteenth guest to come sit at your dinner party if you found yourself with only 13 friends.  Not a bad way to get a free meal.  Bon appetit!

Do you alter your behavior or travel plans on Friday the 13th?

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