Today is Friday the 13th, a day that strikes terror in the hearts of many people. And today, for the first time, I found myself wondering WHY? So I went looking, and I discovered THIS on Wikipedia.
The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia, a word derived from the concatenation of the Greek words ParaskevÃ (Î Î±ÏÎ±ÏƒÎºÎµÏ…Î®) (meaning Friday), and dekatreÃs (Î´ÎµÎºÎ±Ï„ÏÎµÎ¯Ï‚) (meaning thirteen), attached to phobÃa (Ï†Î¿Î²Î¯Î±) (meaning fear). This is a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, a simple phobia (fear) of the number thirteen, and is also known as friggatriskaidekaphobia. The term triskaidekaphobia was derived in 1911 and first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953.
Okay, interesting, but where did the ORIGINAL fear come from? Why do people think the number 13 is unlikely, and how did Friday figure in?
According to folklorists, there is no written evidence for a “Friday the 13th” superstition before the 19th century. The earliest known documented reference in English occurs in an 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini:
[Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring and affectionate friends; and if it be true that, like so many other Italians, he regarded Friday as an unlucky day, and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday, the 13th of November, he died.
However, some folklore is passed on through oral traditions. In addition, “determining the origins of superstitions is an inexact science, at best. In fact, it’s mostly guesswork.” Consequently, several theories have been proposed about the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition.
One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day.
In our mainstream American world, we look forward to Friday like NO OTHER. In offices around the USA, the term TGIF is celebrated with joy and excitement, and a hella lot of relief. So why was or IS it considered unlucky. I honestly had never thought of it as an unlucky day, unless the number 13 was tied with it.
In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve hours of the clock, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, twelve gods of Olympus, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.
Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century’s The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s. It has also been suggested that Friday was the day that Jesus was crucified. 
Fascinating stuff. I’ve been in hotels where there was no 13th floor, and I guess now I understand it a little more.
I think, with superstition, it relates back to trying to control our very uncontrollable universe. Life is full of uncertainty, and chaos and catatrosphe, so maybe with our little superstitions, we are trying to exert SOME sort of control, in the great hope that a piano is not going to fall on us as we walk under a ladder near an apartment building where a black cat lives.
When I was a child, I admit to spending time avoiding the cracks, because I did not want to break my mother’s back. I haven’t done that for years, and my mother’s back is fine. Her knees and hands are giving her some trouble, but they call that age.
But all in all, I am not terribly superstitious. How about you? Does anyone have a superstition they adhere to religiously?
Some of the most common ones I can think of are:
1. Don’t let a black cat cross your path. (My best friend has a cat who is inky black, and he crosses my path often. Should I blame him when things go wrong?)
2. If you break a mirror, you will have seven years bad luck. (So THAT’S what happened! Only 5.5 more years to go and life will get better. Heh.)
3. The abovementioned crack and mother’s back.
4. Don’t walk under a ladder. Why? Why is that? I have no idea.
5. Knocking on wood….
There are a lot of other ones, so jump in and add your favorites, and let me know, please, if any of them REALLY bother you.