SURRATT: Are you paraskevidekatriaphobic?

Published 4:00 am Friday, January 13, 2023

Do you suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia?

At some point in our lives, we’ve all heard the term “triskaidekaphobia,” which is the fear of the number 13. But paraskevidekatriaphobia is more specific; it is the fear of Friday the 13th. According to the website fearof.net, which lists phobias and fears, another name for the phobia is friggatriskaidekaphobia, which originates from Norse mythology where Frigg is the Norse goddess for Friday.

According to fearof.net, about 8 percent of people in the United States are paraskevidekatriaphobes.

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People with this phobia, according to the website, often refuse to leave their homes on this day and even avoid important tasks like going to the doctor or to work.

They display signs of extreme anxiety or nervousness as the date approaches. Often they believe that something terrible or evil is going to happen. And while many understand that their fear is unwarranted and irrational, they feel powerless to overcome the panic they experienced.

So why this fear of Friday 13th or even the number?

According to the website, in numerology, 13 is considered an evil or insignificant number that follows 12 which is considered as “more complete” ­— there are 12 months in a year and 12 signs of the Zodiac. Since 13 exceeds 12 by 1, it is considered a sign of “bad luck.”

Many hotels refuse to have a 13th room or 13th floor. Ships are not launched on Friday the 13th.

So in the end, our fears of the number 13 and Friday 13th are feelings we can catalog under one word — “superstition.”

Are you superstitious? Do you have fears, do certain things a certain way or don’t do things a certain way? Whether we admit it or not, we are all superstitious in one way or another. We subconsciously do certain things or have a little quirk in our behavior before performing certain tasks or going to important events in our life.

Think about it. We may claim that we have no superstitions but there is always something that gives us away, like that special tie or dress you wear when you go to an important appointment or event.

When I was in high school, I ran track and had a load of superstitions. I had to wear a certain pair of socks. Lunch on the day of a home meet was a salami sandwich. Did my actions guarantee a victory? Not quite. There were times I finished a little further in the pack, but my superstitious actions made me feel more confident.

My superstitions have followed me, only now they deal with my alma mater’s football team. I wear special shirts, special socks and shoes and a cap. Like my track days, my wardrobe doesn’t guarantee an LSU victory, but if we win, I feel like I contributed.

All of us, regardless of what we claim, have some superstition that we’ve carried over from our childhood or from an experience we had somewhere in our early years. Think about that for a while, especially today. You might find out you’re paraskevidekatriaphobic. And I’ll end with a line from Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”

“When you believe in things
That you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way,
No, no, no.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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