Friday the 13th. The mere mention of that fateful day, which incidentally comes three times this year, sends the more superstitious running to their calendars to verify, or perhaps to disprove, that the dreaded day is fast approaching. In reality, the fear of Friday the 13th, or paraskevidekatriaphobia as it is more commonly known among psychologists, is a very real condition that affects up to 21 million people, Donald Dossey, founder of North Carolina’s Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute, told the Washington Post. Those exhibiting a fear of Friday the 13th can suffer from symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute estimates that nearly $800 million of commerce is lost every Friday the 13th as a result of this phobia. Sufferers fear the consequences of even leaving their homes, desperate to avoid broken mirrors, ladders, and black cats. One study, published in 1993, reported that the risk of hospitalization resulting from a traffic accident increases by 53 percent every Friday the 13th.
So, where does this fear of Friday the 13th come from? One source may be classic children’s tales.
“In the world of the fairy tale, the 13th fairy godmother is always the one who isn’t invited to the party, so instead of bringing a gift, she brings a curse. This is one of the ways that the 13th gets associated with bad luck.”
Whether or not the fear of Friday the 13th is irrational (Have you been practicing your pronunciation of paraskevidekatriaphobia?), there’s no doubt that it does affect our behavior. What does that mean for Valentine’s Day, which comes only one day after 2015’s first Friday the 13th? Will it ruin everyone’s Friday? Maybe even the entire weekend?
Looking to the stars, astrology and mythology suggest that the occurrence of Friday the 13th so close to Valentine’s Day should actually enhance the romance of the day, not hinder it. To begin, it’s necessary to understand that each of the days of the week were named after, or perhaps in honor of, one of the planets in our solar system, reports Interlochen Public Radio.
“Monday is Moon’s day. Tuesday, which in the French is ‘Mardi’ as in ‘Mardi Gras’ or Fat Tuesday, is Mars’ day. Wednesday is Mercury’s day. Thursday in the Norse culture of Northern Europe, is Thor’s Day. Thor is god of thunder, like Jupiter to the Romans, and his day is Thursday. Then we come to Friday, Freya’s day, also associated with Aphrodite and Venus~each of them goddesses of love and beauty.”
Currently, Venus, named for that goddess of love and beauty, has migrated to a position that enables it to be seen over the western horizon approximately 45 after sunset each evening and this condition will last all season long. Maybe some planet watching would be ideal for Valentine’s Day couples?
Those taking the time to look up at Venus this Valentine’s Day (or even on Friday the 13h, if you’re one of the brave ones), will also see Mars in close proximity. In fact, the two planets will be so close to one another that one might see them as a celestial couple, like the first couple to take the floor at a high school dance. With those two heavenly bodies flirting so freely on Friday the 13th, how can earth-bound couples not follow their lead and draw the love and beauty from Friday the 13th, instead of fear and superstition?
For those searching for the perfect Valentine’s Day getaway, a stay at Highclere Castle, the setting of the hit TV show Downton Abbey, might be just the place to watch Venus and Mars come together.