Know It All: Friday the 13th
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Freaky Friday1 of 11
By Julie Fishman
It's that time again, when Friday and 13 align. But with 2012 already shrouded in supernatural predictions, the traditionally dreaded date just seems a bit eerier this year. For the occasion, Glo set out to discover the meaning behind the day's superstitions and to marvel at the surprising—and sometimes ridiculous—behavior it induces. You might want to cross your fingers and avoid walking under any ladders—at least for today.
Three's a Charm2 of 11
In 2012, we will see three Friday the 13th's (first in January, then in April and now in July), the maximum number that can occur in one calendar year. Interestingly, another year with three Friday the 13th's had a notoriety similar to that of 2012, although prophesized via literature: George Orwell's book 1984, about a Big Brother–controlled society, also had many concerned over the eponymous year's fate.
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The Back Story3 of 11
There are different theories on how Friday the 13th came to be, but the prevailing one is linked to The Last Supper. Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th person to arrive at dinner, making 13 an unlucky number on any day of the week. Add to that the fact that Jesus died on a Friday, and Friday the 13th gets its bad rap.
Fear Factor4 of 11
Although people are far less superstitious now than they were in the past, the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina estimates that 17 to 21 million people in the U.S. have a diagnosable phobia of Friday the 13th. The illness Is called friggatriskaidekaphobia. (We couldn’t make that up.)
Baker's Dozen?5 of 11
Part of the reason the number 13 is considered so treacherous, is simply because it’s right after 12. Numerologists consider 12 a “complete” number: 12 months complete a year, 12 signs complete the zodiac and 12 inches complete a foot.
Addressing The Issue6 of 11
You may have noticed that most buildings leave out the 13th floor, but did you know that planes often lack a 13th row and some hotels eliminate a Room 13? In Florence, the house between 12 and 14 is actually addressed as 12 and a half.
Risky Business7 of 11
Some estimates suggest that the U.S. economy loses up to $900 million every time there’s a Friday the 13th—many people avoid business deals, or even work altogether, on the allegedly doomed date.
Proceed With Caution8 of 11
Fearing an increase in accidents, many Americans won’t hit the roads on Friday the 13th. While traffic crashes do peak on Fridays—probably due to alcohol intake—there’s no decisive data that Friday the 13th is more dangerous than other Fridays in the year.
Nature's Wrath9 of 11
There’s no proof that natural disasters are more likely on Friday the 13th, but Australia’s biggest wildfire, Florida’s especially costly Hurricane Charley and Kansas’s “Great Flood of 1951” all occurred on a Friday the 13th.
The Naysayers10 of 11
To prove Friday the 13th superstitions as nonsense, a group of affluent New Yorkers started a “Thirteen Club” in 1881. Thirteen people met every Friday the 13th and dined in Room 13. During the gathering, guests walked under ladders and through piles of spilled salt. Take that, superstitions.
The Followers11 of 11
Some of our nation’s most famous 20th-century luminaries feared the day. Henry Ford declined to do any business, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt avoided travel. Rumor has it that FDR refused to roam not only on Friday the 13th, but also on the 13th day of every month.
NEXT ON GLO: The Meaning Behind Common Superstitions