Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th: What Are You Afraid Of?

We've all heard the tale that when the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday, bad things will happen. Friday the 13th is a harbinger of bad luck, right up there with black cats crossing your path or walking under ladders. There's even a horror movie by the same name! Fear of the number 13 has significance that dates back to ancient times. Here's one short theory of its origin from

It has been proposed, for example, that fears surrounding the number 13 are as ancient as the act of counting. Primitive man had only his 10 fingers and two feet to represent units, this explanation goes, so he could count no higher than 12. What lay beyond that — 13 — was an impenetrable mystery to our prehistoric forebears, hence an object of superstition.

There is even a name for having an irrational fear of Friday the 13th: paraskevidekatriaphobia. Try saying that three times fast! If you are afraid of the number 13 itself, you suffer from triskaidekaphobia.

For more information about the origins of superstitions related to the number 13, and other urban legends and phobias, check out these sources:

Why Friday the 13th is Unlucky.

Friday the 13th.

How Friday the 13th Works

The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained
by Brad Steiger
BF 1025 .S79 (3 vols.) Reference, Main campus

Encyclopedia of Urban Legends

by Jan Harold Brunvand
E-BOOK (Online)

Urban Legends: The As-Complete-As-One-Could-Be Guide to Modern Myths

by Ngaire Genge
GR 105 .G45 2000 Stacks, Main and Monroe

Urban Legends: The Truth Behind All Those Deliciously Entertaining Myths That Are Absolutely, Positively, 100% Not True!

by Richard Roeper
E-BOOK (Online)

Phobias: Living in Terror
by Films for the Humanities
RC 535 .P56 2004 Media Tower (Main) and Monroe

The Sky Is Falling: Understanding and Coping With Phobias, Panic, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

by Raeann Dumont
RC 535 .D85 1996 Stacks, Main

(Image courtesy of the Encyclopedia Britannica database. "Munch, Edvard: The Scream." Online Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 23 Jan. 2009

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