Thankfully, we have all survived another Friday the 13th. This coincidental day and date strikes fear into the hearts of many. Disaster, trauma, and unlucky circumstances supposedly abound, and many Westerners refuse to go to work or fly on this date. So many are paralyzed by this day that the fear of Friday the 13th has its own word:
The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia, a word derived from the concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή) (meaning Friday), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς) (meaning thirteen), attached to phobía (φοβία) (meaning fear).
But why has an otherwise rational culture espoused such an illogical fear of this day? Like paraskavedekatriaphobia suggests, the fear stems from both a fear of the number 13 and of Fridays. In Christian tradition, both fears have deep roots. There were 13 people in attendance at the last supper. On that night, Judas (the apostle who betrayed Jesus) was the 13th member to arrive. A Christian fear of Fridays is even more concrete:
Christians have traditionally been wary of Fridays because Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Additionally, some theologians hold that Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit on a Friday, and that the Great Flood began on a Friday.
Still others trace the origin of paraskavedekatriaphobia to the Norse. The day of Friday is named after the Norse goddess of love and fertility, Frigga. When Christians converted Norse tribes, Frigga was banished to a mountaintop and labeled a witch:
It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil - a gathering of thirteen - and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as "Witches' Sabbath."
The Knights of Templar (a monastic military order whose mission was to protect Christian pilgrims during the Crusades) even play into the origins of Friday the 13th. Due to greed, King Philip of France decided to secretly order the mass arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307.
Whatever the ultimate causes for our modern fear of Friday the 13th, it is a real occurence. An estimated 17-21 million Americans are affected by a fear of this day, and it is evident in our economy:
"It's been estimated that [U.S] $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do," said Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina.