Stigma and Superstition: Friday the 13th

by Lorna
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To most of us today will be just another day, but to an estimated twenty percent of Americans, it’ll be a reason to run and hide.  Why?  Because today is Friday the 13th.

 the stigmas and superstitions surrounding 13

Triskaidekaphobia, or fear of the number thirteen, isn’t really a contemporary phenomena.  This simple two digit number has wrought havoc on the psyche for centuries.  But why is thirteen so unlucky?  And what makes an inanimate entity so frightening?

 why the number thirteen is feared

Thirteen is believed to be a number of evil, as twelve has long been purported to be the integer of divinity.  There were thirteen men present at the last supper (Jesus plus twelve disciples), thirteen months in the ancient lunar calendar, and Friday the 13th of 1307 is perceived to be the date that the Knights Templar were disbanded and arrested, leading to their death and dissolution.  Friday the thirteenth also marks the tragedy aboard the Apollo 13 space shuttle, the stock market crash of 1989, and the death of prolific rapper Tupac Shakur.

Adversely, 13 is also the number of original US colonies, and the number of stripes that still appear on the US flag.  It’s the number of cards in each suit of a playing deck, a prime number, the first two digit number in the Fibonacci sequence, and the number associated with the Grecian god Zeus.  All of these connections could be argued as proof of a positive energy surrounding the number.  In fact, recording artist Taylor Swift swears that 13 is her lucky number.  And the popularity of “lucky 13” tattoo art would suggest that many others are beginning to see it that way too.

Taylor Swift's lucky number 13Taylor Swift (source: WGSN)

So will Friday the 13th be your lucky day?  According to many psychologists, it will if you believe so, just as negative superstitions can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  But whatever you do this Friday the 13th, be sure to avoid a trip to Camp Crystal Lake, just in case.

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by Lorna

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