Do You Fear Friday the 13th?

Friggatriskaidekaphobia: the fear of Friday the 13th is the most widespread superstition in the United States today.

Paraskevidekatriaphobics are people afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th. It is estimated that this affects between 17 and 21 million Americans. Some people won’t get out of bed; others won’t fly, buy a house or act on a hot stock tip. Still others won’t work, eat in restaurants or get married on a Friday the 13th. This superstition seemingly began in the 19th century.

Many cities have no 13th Avenue or 13th Street, and many buildings don’t have a 13th floor. 13 letters in a name are referred to as “devil’s luck”… just think of Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer and Theodore Bundy. 13 witches comprise a coven. A Norse myth tells of mischievous Loki joining the party as the 13th guest, and Judas was the 13th at the table at the Last Supper. Christians also held Friday as unlucky due to the crucifixion of Jesus.

Friday the 13th was anything but unlucky for the horror film franchise that debuted in 1980, and the date is forever associated in pop culture with a machete-wielding psychopath in a hockey mask. The most recent installment was released in 2009.

Experts say data is impossible to collect since many people avoid certain activities, though no one would dispute that receiving a baker’s dozen at the local donut shop would be a lucky thing indeed.