For all of those who suffer from Friggatriskaidekaphobia this is a day to hide and do nothing. That is, if you live in a Western society. In other cultures, the number 13 is considered extremely lucky. In Spanish-speaking countries it might be Tuesday the 13th, or in Italy it’s Friday the 17th, as the number 13 is a lucky number.
In the United States an estimated 17 to 21 million people are affected by a fear of this day making it the most feared day and date in history. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. It's been estimated that $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day. That is not what merchants want to hear this holiday season. Fortunately, next year will only contain one Friday the 13th.
The Mirror News in London noted that one-third of Britons changed their travel plans yesterday to avoid today, while three-quarters of those polled said they experienced bad luck on this day. I suppose if you expect it, you will find it.
Builders avoid 13 floors in a high-rise. Hotels jump over the number 13 in room numbering. Airlines will not number their flights with a 13. Most major league sports teams do not issue a jersey with the number 13 on it. And the 13th tarot card is the card of Death.
However, a rugby team has 13 players and, in Judaism a boy of 13 becomes a full member of the faith, a subject to the commandments or laws, a Bar Mitzvah. In Brazil, 13 is a God number and can save mankind. The Mayan calendar had 13-day periods.
NASA’s Apollo 13 was a near disaster while Universal Pictures Apollo 13 grossed $360 million at the box office, and made a tidy profit of $303 million.
Numbers like these fascinate us researchers and cause us to dig a little deeper into the meaning of what really is happening.
So, if you are a little bit leery of the number 13, do what I did this morning. Stop by the donut shop and pick up a dozen. You always get one free!