Happy friggatriskaidekaphobia day!
Do you suffer from Friggatriskaidekaphobia? Or from Paraskevidekatriaphobia? In layman's terms: Do you fear Friday the 13th?
No one knows exactly when people started mistrusting the day or the number. Some references cite the Devil's Dozen, in which a coven of 12 witches would gather and the 13th guest would be the Devil. In Norse mythology, the gods convened a dinner and did not invite the mischief-maker Loki. The uninvited 13th guest showed up, caused havoc and killed the god of happiness. It's also suggested that the day stems from the Last Supper. Thirteen guests were invited, and the thriteenth guest betrayed Jesus. Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
Whatever the origins, the superstition has been taken to heart: Fear of bad luck has people opting out of business or travel on Friday the 13th. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C., estimates that $800 million to $900 million is lost in business every Friday the 13th.
Time magazine suggests some anecdotes. The oddest, perhaps, is the small town in Indiana that tied bells on all the black cats every Friday the 13th, successfully warding off any bad luck for three years. Whoever got the job of tying bells on unruly cats may have had other thoughts about their luck on that day.
Melissa Bell writes for The Washington Post and wishes her brother a happy birthday. He was born on a Friday the 13th. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @melissabell.
August 13, 2010; 9:14 AM ET
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