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Join Date: Mar 2008
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Paralyzed by Friday the 13th
This article is from The Vancouver Sun.
Most Canadians will brave ice pellets hailing from the skies, rush-hour traffic and roads covered in black ice to get to work. But some won't be able to face the thought of leaving their homes on Friday the 13th.
The good news for friggatriskaidekaphobiacs, people with Friday-the-13th phobia, is that there is only one this year. The bad news: it's today.
This day, tied to numerous myths and superstitions, happens at least once a year. But never more than three times a year.
How to see one coming? Look out for months that start on a Sunday. There will be a Friday the 13th 12 days later.
Historians and mythological experts haven't been able to pin down exactly how this fear started.
Anxiety related to the number 13 is evidenced by numerous upper-crust hotels in Vancouver that don't have a 13th floor.
There's no estimate on how many people in Canada suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia, but somewhere between 17 million and 21 million Americans are affected by the fear, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina.
"It's been estimated that $800 or $900 million [US] is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do," said Donald Dossey, founder of the institute.
But is there evidence to support and enable the fear?
One 1993 study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that the traffic accident risk increases by as much as 52 per cent on Friday the 13th, compared to a normal Friday.
And other less scientific data shows some eerie findings related to the day.
This includes: the shooting death of rapper Tupac Shakur on Friday, Sept. 13, 1996; the Uphaar Cinema fire in Delhi, which killed 59 people and injured 103 who were trapped behind locked doors on Friday, June 13, 1997; and the crash of Uruguayan Air Force flight 571 on Friday, Oct. 13, 1972, which led to the immediate deaths of a quarter of the passengers, plus deaths in the days that followed as survivors succumbed to cold, injury and an avalanche that killed eight.
But fear not, there are ways to ward off bad luck. A practical one would be to have confidence in your own luck, or perhaps to stay positive throughout the day.
Remedies with folklore origins would perhaps suit those with superstitious tendencies. For example, it has been said that luck can be improved on this day if you climb to the top of a mountain or skyscraper, and burn all the socks you own that have any holes.
If you are an omnivorous yogi or gymnast, you can do a headstand while eating a piece of gristle or cartilage.
There are certain activities that also best be avoided: needlework; harvesting; beginning a journey or going out to sea; getting married; moving; or starting a new job.
One that you can no longer avoid, but has been suggested to be part of the list, is hearing or reading about the news.
But for those who can't avoid those activities and can't participate in said remedies, just put on a pair of red underwear. That's how the Chinese, myself included, avoid bad luck.