Master of 13

It’s Friday the 13th, are you hiding under the covers awaiting the dawn of a new day?  If so, you could be friggatriskaidekaphobic.  But why does this day get such a bad rap?  Some biblical scholars believe Eve offered Adam the apple, and Jesus was crucified on Friday the 13th.  The number 13 is considered unlucky because it follows well-rounded number 12.  There are 12 months in a year, 12 zodiac signs, 12 apostles, and 12 tribes of Israel. Apparently adding one more throws some folks into a tizzy.

“If nobody bothered to teach us about these negative taboo superstitions like Friday the 13th, we might in fact all be better off,” states Stuart Vyse, professor of psychology at Connecticut College, and author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition (2013).

Society has enabled these superstitions by not including 13th floors and room 13s in hotels and office buildings, as well as gate 13s in airports.  In France, quatorziens (fourteeners) once kept bad luck from befalling dinner parties by offering their services as the 14th dinner guest.  I wonder if NASA regrets not doing the same for its ill-fated Apollo mission…Houston, let’s skip to number 14.

I don’t consider myself superstitious, but I will admit to some serious edginess many years ago when my master’s thesis was due on a Friday the 13th.  I’m not sure if my anxiety was due to the date, the culmination of 2 years of research, or the dot matrix printer (ah the 1990s!) spastically churning out pages. I do remember my fellow classmates and I breathed a lot easier after our pages were turned in, and we could turn our attention to more pressing issues, like celebrating.  Whether you’re tucked under the covers or blissfully unaffected by Friday the 13th, I hope your day is filled with good luck. J

Fun Fact #1:  Stuart Vyse was one of my thesis advisors at Connecticut College!  I was surprised and delighted to come across his work and TedTalk while researching this post.

Fun Fact #2: According to, former Civil War veteran, William Fowler founded the Thirteen Club in 1880.  He invited friends to dine with him in room 13, at tables set for 13, on the 13th day of each month.  Click on this link to learn more about the bold antics of the Thirteen Club: 13Club

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