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Friday the 13thToday is Friday the 13th. Should you take precautions?

Some people get really worked up over Friday the 13th. According to a report at National Geographic, some people are so paralyzed with fear they simply won’t get out of bed. Some won’t fly on an airplane, buy a house, or make any important decision. Some estimates suggest that nearly $1 billion is lost in business on Friday the 13th because people will not fly or do business as they normally would.

According to National Geographic, fear of Friday the 13th is based on ancient, but separate, bad-luck associations with the number 13 and the day Friday. The fear of 13 may have originated from a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party at Valhalla – their heaven. In walked the uninvited 13th guest, Loki. Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shot Balder the Beautiful. Balder died and the whole Earth got dark… it was a bad, unlucky day.

National Geographic also notes a biblical reference to the unlucky 13. Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th guest to arrive at the Last Supper.

Others point to the bad luck that occurred in space on the Apollo 13 mission.

The fear of "13" continues today. More than 80% of high-rise buildings lack a 13th floor. Many airports skip the 13th gate. Hospitals and hotels rarely have room no. 13.

So, we know the history behind the phobia, but does that actually translate to real danger?

A study from the British Department of Public Health suggests that maybe it is. The study found that although fewer people chose to drive their cars on Friday the 13th, the number of hospital admissions due to vehicular accidents was significantly higher than on "normal" Fridays.

Conclusion: "Friday the 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 home is recommended."

I’m sure that comes as no surprise to the many paraskevidekatriaphobes out there.

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(c) Copyright 2011 Brett A. Emison

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