Random Wikipedia Fact #38

by thelostboy
February 13, 2009 6:21 AM
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Friday the 13th
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friday the 13th is the thirteenth day in a month that falls on Friday, which superstition holds that it is a day of good or bad luck. In the Gregorian calendar, this day occurs usually at least once a year.

The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia, a word derived from the concatenation of the Greek words Paraskevi () (meaning Friday), and dekatreis () (meaning thirteen), attached to phobia () (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.

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.

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. "It's been estimated that $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day". Despite this, representatives for both Delta and Continental Airlines say that their airlines don't suffer from any noticeable drop in travel on those Fridays.

There are conflicting studies about the risk of accidents on Friday the 13th. The Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics (CVS) on June 12, 2008, stated that "fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays, because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home; but statistically speaking, driving is a little bit safer on Friday 13th; in the last two years, Dutch insurers received reports of an average 7,800 traffic accidents each Friday; but the average figure when the 13th fell on a Friday was just 7,500. However, a 1993 study in the British Medical Journal that compared the ratio of traffic accidents between Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th, stated that there is a significant increase in traffic-related accidents on Fridays the 13th.


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