Today is Friday the 13th – cue bad luck, black cats and hockey masked murderers.
I’ve already had my computer crash today and spent the entire morning reinstalling Windows *sigh*.
But as usual, I’m always looking for ways to transform bad vibes and despite Friday the 13th causing many of us to wish we were hiding in bed, if we just shift our belief a little we might be able to avoid the blunder of superstition.
So first what is Friday 13th and why does it keep driving us up the wall, under ladders and round the bend?
One theory goes back as far as biblical times and comes from our old pal Jesus. We all know there were 13 people at the last supper (Jesus + 12 disciples = yeah you get it) and this was held on the eve of Good Friday, which wasn’t a particularly good day for Jesus…
But I’m pretty sure it goes back even further than that. For thousands of years, the number 12 has been a symbol of cosmic order; totality and cycles, time and space – 12 months, 12 hours, 12 Greek Gods, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 days of Christmas – the list goes on.
The number 13 comes after this so it makes sense that people would have been a bit wary of it; it’s an outsider – unnatural somehow after the symbolic completeness of our favourite number 12.
Historically, people have been so scared of this day that there’s even a name for it: Paraskevidekatriaphobia. This Greek mouthful seems to sum up the panic a lot of us feel when Friday 13th rolls around.
Fear of this date is so extreme that The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina estimated that 17 to 21 million people in the US are negatively affected by it, and according to the National Geographic around $900 million is lost in business on this day – seems pretty legit right?
But perhaps, like with most superstitions, it’s impact depends on whether or not you actually believe in it?
Numerous studies have actually shown that Friday 13th has very little effect on the amount of accidents, hospital visits, and natural disasters recorded, and according to NASA, on Friday the 13th in April 2029 a huge asteroid will fly safely past Earth. Now surely if it were so unlucky we’d all be space dust by then? I guess we’ll see…
But let’s say for a minute that a meteor did hit earth on that day, any surviving humans would have their fears in Friday 13th well and truly cemented.
When we’ve already experienced something bad we form a negative association with that thing, in this case Friday 13th. If we believe that our bad luck came from the date, we’ll forever blame the rest of our mishaps on this day too.
As if that wasn’t confusing enough, the emotional response of fear itself doesn’t help either.
Fear puts us in fight or flight, it keeps us safe from real danger like murderers or asteroids, but because it’s an instinctual response our everyday mental processes like rational thinking and logic are reduced.
So if we’ve got the worry of Friday 13th in the back of our minds, we’re likely not thinking straight so will unwittingly f**k up.
And because we believe it’s all that dastardly date’s fault, we’ll instantly attribute any little mishaps to it – “I was late for work”, “My dog ate my homework”, “I dropped my phone down the toilet”…you get my drift.
And while we’re obviously not to blame for everything that happens on this day of doom (asteroids included), perhaps if we changed our attitude we could avoid the more minor mishaps.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “I make my own luck” – well Friday 13th is testament to that.
While we panic about all the things that will go wrong today, we’re subconsciously sabotaging ourselves and perpetuating the myth.
And even if the superstitions are true, and Friday 13th throws some sort of unlucky shade over our sunny day, maybe if we just went with it and accepted that things might be difficult today, we could all relax a little and not sweat the small stuff?
You make your own luck. You can’t avoid some things but you do decide how you react to the ups and downs of life, and if you can react positively to most of it, you’ll be on form to avoid the minor mistakes – and Friday 13th won’t seem so scary anymore.
Featured: Arthur Rackham – Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Black Cat: Pethelpful
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