ATLANTA - August 10, 2010 Despite being entrenched in superstitious lore, 77.3 percent of people say they would not hesitate to shift plans for a major life event, such as a wedding, move, or first day on a new job, in order to avoid Friday the 13th, according to a new online poll from HowStuffWorks.com, the award-winning online resource for information on thousands of topics. The poll surveyed more than 400 visitors on the HowStuffWorks.com homepage, in addition to dozens more through Facebook and Twitter.
Contrary to many who feel the date is inherently unlucky, the majority of social media fans weighed in with different thoughts. One said, "My mom and dad were married on Friday the 13th -- 50 years ago! Good luck for them and me!" Another went so far as to say, "One of my co-workers just bought a ticket to go skydiving on Friday the 13th. I say it's just another day."
The phenomenon known as paraskevidekatriaphobia, or fear of Friday the 13th, can be traced back to folklore and superstition in many different religions and cultures.
- A Betrayal Not Forgotten for More Than 2,000 Years - Judas, the "betraying Apostle," was the 13th diner to arrive at the Last Supper. Many other monumental Christian tragedies reportedly fell on Fridays, including Jesus' crucifixion, Adam and Eve being cast out of Eden, and the Great Flood.
- No "Frigg"in' Way - The word "Friday" is reportedly named for Frigg, the Norse goddess of sex and love. Some historians claim that Frigg's positioning as a strong female posed a threat to Christianity, whose focal figures were mostly male. To undermine her influence, some argue that the Christian church characterized Frigg as a witch and vilified the day named after her.
- No More Than 12 a Table - In Norse mythology, the beloved hero Balder was killed at a banquet by the malevolent god Loki, who crashed the party of 12, bringing the group to 13. This story, like that of the Last Supper, supported one of the most negative connotations behind this unlucky number: One should never sit down to a meal in a group of 13.
"Friday the 13th is a date that captivates us because of its historical association with everything from notorious horror movies to everyday superstitions," says Marshall Brain, founder of HowStuffWorks.com, who also writes the BrainStuff blog and hosts a podcast of the same name. "As our poll demonstrates, most people have used common sense and personal experience to debunk the day's bad rap, and grasp that a Friday the 13th is really no different from a Friday the 12th."