Friday the 13th: Are you superstitious? Myth-buster Mike Watkiss isn't

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Mike Watkiss (2007)

Posted on July 13, 2012 at 7:41 AM

Updated Friday, Sep 13 at 10:01 AM

PHOENIX -- It's Friday the 13th, the third -- and last -- one of 2012.

If you're reading this, you survived the last Friday the 13th, which occurred 13 weeks ago (April 13), and the one that fell 13 weeks before that (Jan. 13).

Once we make it past today, we're off the Friday the13th hook for more than a year. The next one falls on Sept. 13, 2013, followed by another three months later in December. There's only one Friday the 13th in 2014, and then three in 2015.

That's lots of 13s.

If you're finding yourself uneasy today -- perhaps practicing a bit more caution than usual -- you might suffer from paraskavedekatriaphobia, also known as friggatriskaidekaphobia. (Try saying either of those 10 times fast -- or even just once slowly.) Those are the scientific terms for fear of Friday the 13th. If it's just the number 13 you fear, you have triskaidekaphobia.

Even though it's relatively new, the inherent unluckiness of Friday the 13th is one of the most pervasive superstitions.

Apparently dating back to the mid- to late-1800s, many believe Friday the 13th is the marriage of two older superstitions. As much as most of us love Friday as the end of the work week, it has been considered an unlucky day for centuries. Add to that the lore surrounding the number 13, and there you have it.

Thomas Gilovich, chairman of the department of psychology at Cornell University, has a theory about how Friday the 13th came to be, well, Friday the 13th. It has to do with how our brains make associations.

LiveScience quoted Gilovich as saying, "If anything bad happens to you on Friday the 13th, the two will be forever associated in your mind, and all those uneventful days in which the 13th fell on a Friday will be ignored."

Most common superstitions according to LiveScience

  1. Friday the 13th
  2. Opening an umbella inside is bad luck
  3. Cross your fingers for luck
  4. Make a wish on a wishbone
  5. Knock on wood to ward off bad luck
  6. 666
  7. Breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck
  8. Bad things happen in threes
  9. Lucky rabbit's foot
  10. A black cat crossing your path is bad luck
  11. Walking under a ladder is tempting fate
  12. Find a penny, pick it up and all day long you'll have good luck
  13. Beginner's luck

More common superstitions

  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away
  • A four-leaf clover is lucky
  • A horseshoe brings good luck
  • Step on a crack, break your mother's back
  • Turning seven times clockwise will break a bad luck spell
  • Garlic wards off vampires and evil spirits
  • Washing a car will bring rain
  • Spilling salt will bring bad luck/throwing salt over your shoulder
  • A purse on the floor is money out the door
  • Keys on the table open you up to bad luck
  • Whistling in the house is bad luck, especially in terms of finances

Are you superstitious? What's your big one? Comment below!

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