ABOVE: How did Friday the 13th become a day of foreboding? Peter Kim reports.
TORONTO — If you need a reason to call in sick to work this Friday, tell the boss you’ve got paraskevidekatriaphobia — the fear of Friday the 13th.
It is only the second time this year the 13th of the month has fallen on a Friday (the previous one was — gulp! — 13 weeks ago) and the last time this will happen until June.
So, why is Friday the 13th so dreaded?
It starts with the fear of the number 13, a condition known as triskaidekaphobia.
Most highrise buildings don’t have a 13th floor, airports generally lack a Gate 13, couples avoid getting married on the 13th of any month, and it’s considered unlucky to have 13 guests at a dinner party.
The superstition can be traced to the Norse myth about 12 gods dining at Valhalla who were interrupted by evil Loki. Or The Last Supper, at which Jesus was betrayed by Judas — the 13th guest to arrive.
Is 13 really cursed, though?
NASA’s only unsuccessful mission to the moon was Apollo 13. The voyage was aborted after the module’s oxygen tank ruptured on April 14, 1970 (a day after the 13th!).
Many evil people have 13 letters in their names, including Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Osama bin Laden, John Wayne Gacy, Theodore Bundy, Albert DeSalvo (aka the Boston Strangler) and Jack the Ripper.
Some believe Friday the 13th became infamous because the Knights of Templar were killed on Friday, Oct. 13, 1307. But it really made its mark in popular culture thanks to a far more modern tale — the 1980 horror flick Friday the 13th.
Still, there is no credible scientific data to support the theory that Friday the 13th is unlucky. There is no significant increase in accidents (although a total of 203 people perished on Friday, Oct. 13, 1972 in two separate plane crashes) so there’s no rational reason to avoid flying, driving or going for a walk.
Just don’t step on crack.