If you feel a little more scared that usual today, check your calendar; it’s Friday the 13th. But why is this day so feared by the superstitious?
Though the exact origins of the superstition have been lost over the years, a few theories have emerged. One recently discussed theory was featured in “The Da Vinci Code,” and claims that the date holds significance due to it being the date that King Phillip the IV of France ordered thousands of Knights Templar, a warrior monk sect determined to combat Islam during the Crusades, to be killed.
Others believe that the day built significance from two other beliefs: the thought that Fridays were unlucky, and that the number 13 was also unlucky. Both of these beliefs can be tracked back to Biblical origins, such as the idea that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, or that the number of guests at the last supper totaled 13.
Still others believe that media and popular culture have exaggerated the significance of the date. Hollywood horror fans know of Jason Voorhees and his exploits in “Friday the 13th,” and many horror themed films try to open on the 13th, just to bring in some more viewers.
Even though the origin has been lost, the effects of Friday the 13th can still be felt.
Those who suffer from paraskavedekatriaphobia, a fear of Friday the 13th, may decide to not work on that day, contributing to the estimated $800 to $900 million lost in business during that day.
Researchers at the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina say nearly 17 million people may be affected by paraskavedekatriaphobia, and even more suffer from triskaidekaphobia, a fear of the number 13.
This fear has lead to many changes in building construction – no 13th floor – and even some airline seating lacks the unlucky row.
Even though some may fear the day, it is not going away. The superstitious will have a little easier time sitting through 2013, as the date hits twice this year -- today and December 13.
In 2012, Friday the 13th dates showed up in January, April, and July. In 2014, there's only a single occurance -- June 13, 2014.