Friday the 13th is seen as an unlucky day in many cultures. English and French speaking countries, Portuguese speaking countries, and several European countries I’ll see this as a good day to stay in bed. Greece and Romania worry about Tuesday the 13th, while Italians dread Friday the 17th.
The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia. It is based on triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13. Over the years, both Friday and the number 13 have been seen as unlucky, giving Friday the 13th at double dose of bad luck.
If Friday the 13th makes you want to hide under the bed covers, you’re not alone. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina estimates that over 67 million people suffer from this phobia. Some are so terrified that they refuse to go to work, take a flight, or get out of bed. Despite this accusation, the airlines don’t see any appreciable loss of business on any Friday the 13th. However, a British medical journal study has shown that traffic accidents increase significantly on Friday the 13th.
Both Christian and Norse tradition identify the number 13 and his evil, showing the optimum number of guests at a dinner to be 12. this superstition continues on into present day. Most office buildings avoid having a 13th floor (in Vancouver’s Chinatown, office buildings have no fourth floor, due to fear of that number in Korea, Japan, and China.). Airplanes rarely have an aisle 13.
Interestingly, this superstition persists even among seemingly rational human beings.