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January 13, 2006

Paraskavedekatriaphobia?

You may think you don’t know what this very long word means—but you do: It’s Greek for “fear of Friday the 13th.” So—are you afraid, even a bit? Or worried about bad luck?

Yesterday I would have scoffed, but that was on a gloriously sunny Thursday with temps in the 50s. Today—Friday, Jan. 13—rain is busily turning to snow outside my window and degrees are rapidly dropping off the thermometer. Definitely not lucky for the weekend.

So I’m a bit curious about the superstition, which I’ve never really thought about. A quick Web search led to many sites with eager folks weighing in on suggested origins, personal experiences, even purported statistics. Wikipedia offers rather intriguing speculations on origins—including that there were 13 men gathered at the Last Supper of Jesus, the night before his Friday crucifixion. Hmm...  Alternatively there’s a Norse myth. Or a connection to the Knights Templar.

Some psychologists’ research suggests that Friday the 13th is unlucky for some—with more accidents happening or illness occurring.  And why?  No surprise: It’s attributed to such people feeling a “heightened state of anxiety” on that day. Or today—it could be more folks in Chicago will slip on black ice than they would have on the spring-like Thursday the 12th. So be careful!

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