It’s Friday The 13th – Get Over It

As a mathematician I am fascinated by numbers and the power we imbue them with.

If it hasn’t escaped your attention then today is Friday the 13th and for some people, this is a problem because they believe bad things can happen to them. It’s such a belief for some that they won’t leave the house.

Those that fear the number 13 have triskidekaphobia and will avoid it at all costs. The fear of Friday the 13th is known as paraskevidekatriaphobia (paraskeví translates as Friday, and dekatria is another way of saying 13) or friggatriskaidekaphobia (which comes from Frigg, the Norse goddess of wisdom after whom Friday is named, and the Greek words triskaideka, meaning 13, and phobia).

These fears could easily be dismissed as nonsense but the superstition surrounding certain numbers is embedded in our culture. I don’t have a number 13 house on my road but there is a 12A. Then there are the hotels in town that don’t have a 13th floor. I flew Some airlines don’t have a 13th row of seats.

The fear of the number 13 is thought to be linked to the early Christians – there were 13 people present at the Last Supper, Jesus and his 12 Apostles and some say that betrayer Judas was the 13th to join the table. This may be the origin of the superstition that states that when 13 dine; one will die within the year.

But for me, 13 isn’t unlucky. I see it mathematically and so it’s a prime number and a Fibonacci number.

If Friday 13th is something you fear then it’s good news and bad news. All years will have at least one Friday the 13th but there can’t be more than three Friday the 13ths in any given calendar year. It’s good news for non-believers of Friday 13th because the roads are safer as there are fewer people on them!

Lots of studies have shown that Friday the 13th has little or no effect on events like accidents, hospital visits, and natural disasters. This of course won’t matter to you and you just wish it was Saturday already.

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