Friggatriskaidekaphobia is a fear, or phobia, of the combination of Friday and the 13th day of a month. The phobia’s name origins include ‘Frigga’ being the name of the Norse goddess after whom ‘Friday’ is named in English, and ‘triskaidekaphobia’ being a fear of the number 13. It’s roots date back to very ancient myths in Norse, Babylonian, Roman and Christian history.
The Norse myth is about 12 gods having a dinner party at Valhalla, their heaven. In walked the uninvited 13th guest, the mischievous Loki. Once there, Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow.
Balder died and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day,” explained Dossey, a folklore historian and author of “Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun”. From that moment on, the number 13 has been considered ominous and foreboding.
Babylon’s ancient Code of Hammurabi purposely omits the number 13 in its list of laws.Meanwhile, in ancient Rome, witches reportedly gathered in groups of 12. The 13th was believed to be the devil.
There is also a biblical reference to the unlucky number 13. Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th guest to the Last Supper. As for Friday, it is well known among Christians as the day Jesus was crucified. Some biblical scholars believe Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit on Friday. Perhaps most significant is a belief that Abel was slain by Cain on Friday the 13th.
As to the fearful connotations with the number 13; numerologists consider 12 a “complete” number. There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles of Jesus. As the number 13 is just beyond 12, it is “out of bounds” of the normal.
This fear of the number 13 is not bound by international boundaries; according to experts, more than 80 percent of high-rises lack a 13th floor. Many airports skip the 13th gate. Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13.
On streets in Florence, Italy, the house between number 12 and 14 is addressed as 12 and a half. In France socialites known as the quatorziens (fourteeners) once made themselves available as 14th guests to keep a dinner party from an unlucky fate.
Many triskaidekaphobes, as those who fear the unlucky integer are known, point to the ill-fated mission to the moon, Apollo 13. On April 13th, two days after the start of the mission, an oxygen tank exploded leaving the astronauts fighting for survival.
Then came Jason. In 1980, the popular horror movie “Friday the 13th” was released (tagline: “Fridays will never be the same again”), a slasher flick about a series of murders at a summer camp. Apparently Jason, born on Friday the 13th, chooses that date to take revenge on oversexed campers much like the ones who allowed him to drown in Crystal Lake. Friday the 13th grossed almost $40 million at the box office and inspired a long-running franchise.
Friggatriskaidekaphobia is still very much alive — to this day, the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute estimates that $700-$800 million dollars are lost every Friday the 13th because of people’s refusal to travel or fly, purchase major items, close a business deal on this date, while others refuse to conduct business or even leave the house.
And how will *you* deal with Friday the 13th?