Hello there. I am Terry and I am a full-time undergraduate based in Singapore. I take photos, write a blog and design websites.

And no, I'm not a teddy bear.

Friday The 13th

Below is a study published in the British Medical Journal in 1993 entitled “Is Friday the 13th Bad for Your Health?” With the aim of mapping “the relation between health, behaviour, and superstition surrounding Friday 13th in the United Kingdom,” its authors compared the ratio of traffic volume to vehicular accidents on two different days, Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th, over a period of years.

Interestingly, they found that in the region sampled, while consistently fewer people chose to drive on Friday the 13th, the number of hospital admissions due to accidents was significantly higher than on “normal” Fridays.

Their conclusion:

“Friday 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 percent. Staying at home is recommended.”

Paraskevidekatriaphobics (this is surely a long word) — people afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th — are no doubt pricking up their ears just now, buoyed by evidence that their terror may not be so irrational after all. But it’s unwise to take solace in a single scientific study (the only one of its kind, so far as I know), especially one so peculiar. I suspect it has more to teach us about human psychology than it does about any particular date on the calendar.

What is the origin of the unlucky number 13? Why do people say that it is an unlucky number?

It is said: If 13 people sit down to dinner together, all will die within the year. The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was practically expunged from their vocabulary (Brewer, 1894). Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don’t have a 13th floor. If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil’s luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names). There are 13 witches in a coven.

Though no one can say for sure when and why human beings first associated the number 13 with misfortune, the belief is assumed to be quite old and there exist any number of theories purporting to trace its origins to antiquity and beyond.

It has been proposed, for example, that fears surrounding the number 13 are as ancient as the act of counting.

Primitive man had only his 10 fingers and two feet to represent units, so he could not count higher than 12, according to this explanation. What lay beyond that — 13 — was an impenetrable mystery, hence an object of superstition.

Which has a lovely, didactic ring to it, but one is left wondering: did primitive man not have toes?

Despite whatever terrors the numerical unknown held for their prehistoric forebears, ancient civilizations weren’t unanimous in their dread of 13. The Chinese regarded the number as lucky, some commentators say, as did the Egyptians in the time of the pharaohs.

To the ancient Egyptians, we are told, life was a quest for spiritual ascension which unfolded in stages — 12 in this life and a 13th beyond, thought to be the eternal afterlife. The number 13 therefore symbolized death.

NOTE: Information obtained from Urban Legends.

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