Paraskavedekatriaphobia Got You Down? Have No Fear!

By Thomas Nagorski

Feb 13, 2009 12:51pm

From Senior Producer Stu Schutzman…

Most of you triskaidekaphobes out there may already know the significance of the term paraskavedekatriaphobia; for those of you who don’t, it’s Greek for fear of Friday the 13th. Today marks first of three Fridays the 13th this year.

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina, as many as 21 million Americans are afflicted with this phobia. Daily routines are altered, some people can’t even get out of bed. Irrational? Not for me to judge but what is palpable is the loss of productivity on this day. It can cost the economy as much as 900 million dollars.

In the meantime — no matter what day it is — office buildings and hotels often skip the 13th floor; cities and towns often omit 13th streets and avenues (although if you’re ever in Sacramento, you can stand on the corner of 13th and 13th). Even triskaidekaphobes themselves (those who fear the number 13) aren’t quite sure why? Is it because Judas, who betrayed Jesus, occupied the 13th seat at the Last Supper? Or because Loki the evil Norse god crashed a banquet of 12 other Norse Gods, killed one of them and showed up as the 13th mourner at his funeral? Who knows? As for Friday the 13th — for you conspiracy theorists steeped in "Da Vinci Code" intrigue, bad luck on Friday the 13th may very well be the ultimate revenge of the "Knights Templar" who were arrested en masse on a Friday the 13th — in 1307.

Whatever the roots, there is help to be found on line. "Be positive," advises Triskaidekaphobia.net. "Try to ignore it…do research; knowledge is power." And when all else fails, remember it’s all over at midnight….until the next Friday the 13th (which just happens to be next month). Good luck!

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