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Archive for June 13th, 2008

Do you suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia?

June 13, 2008 @ 08:44 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

If you’re one of those people with paraskevidekatriaphobia, perhaps you should consider moving to Holland.

According to a story carried by Reuters, the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics crunched the numbers and found that there are actually fewer accidents, thefts and fires on when a month has a Friday the 13th than on other Fridays. (If you can read Dutch, here’s the story on the Verbond van Derzekeraars website.)

There are something like 7,800 traffic accidents in Holland on a typical Friday. However, on Friday the 13ths there are only 7,500 accidents , or almost 4% fewer accidents, which is a statistically significant difference.

On the other hand, you probably don’t want to go to Britain because a 1993 study found that although there were consistently fewer vehicles on a major highway in Britain on Friday the 13th compared to Friday the 6ths, the number of admissions to hospitals due to traffic accidents was significantly higher. The abstract for the article included the following:

CONCLUSIONS–Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52%. Staying at home is recommended.


There’s a bit of British navy folklore about this auspicious day, with one story about HMS Friday getting a lot of mention on the ‘net. The story goes that the British government wanted to put and end the belief among seamen that setting sail on Fridays was unlucky. To this end, they commissioned the construction of HMS Friday. They laid her keel on a Friday, selected her crew on a Friday and hired a man named Jim Friday to be her captain and, of course, launched her on a Friday. Naturally, she disappeared, never to be heard from again.

The Royal Naval Museum released a press release on July 13, 2007, which said…

A Museum spokesperson commented that sailors certainly are superstitious – something to do with being at the mercy of such an unpredictable element as the sea and who would want to give up a weekend ashore. But we can confirm that there has never been a Royal Navy ship named HMS Friday – or after any other day of the week for that matter.

So, it seems HMS Friday never existed. Or that’s just what “they” want you to believe.

But why is Friday the 13th considered unlucky? According to about.com, it seems to be a relatively new phenomenon, rather than something that’s believed for thousands of years.

There are lots of Bad Things that happened on Fridays:

  • It was lucky for the heathens, so it had to be considered unlucky by the early Christian church
  • The Great Flood that Noah built the Ark for started on a Friday
  • Friday was Execution Day in Pagan Rome (particularly unlucky for the executionees)
  • Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden
  • Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday
  • Prime Minister Diefenbaker cancelled the Avro Arrow program on a Friday

And there’s a lot of superstition surrounding the number 13 and it even has it’s own special phobia, Triskaidekaphobia:

  • There were 13 disciples at the Last Supper, one of whom betrayed Jesus
  • A witches’ coven has 13 members
  • If 13 people dine at a table, one of them will die in the next year
  • many buildings don’t have a 13th floor
  • some airplanes don’t have a 13th row of seats

Friday the 13th being considered unlucky may be a result of the combination of two unlucky things — Fridays and the number 13 — combining in a particularly unlucky manner, such as what happened to the Knights Templar who were slaughtered in a collaboration between King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V that finished with the burning at the stake of Jacques De Molay.

Personally, I was born on January 13th, though I wasn’t born on a Friday. I’ve celebrated my birthday on a Friday, however, and I don’t recall anything bad happening to me. Yet.