We managed to make it through the Mayan apocalypse. Now let's
see if we can survive the unluckiest year of the century.
Time to hide in the basement, all you Superstitious Sallys
and Bad Luck Barneys. It's 2013.
It could be. National Geographic once estimated that on each
Friday the 13th the US economy loses more than $US800 million
from consumers avoiding travel, moves, movies, dinner,
weddings and more. You have to wonder: How much more will be
lost in a whole year branded with the number 13?
Ignore triskaidekaphobia - fear of the number 13 - at your
own risk. Sure, many states made you put a 2013 sticker on
your license plate when you renewed your registration.
But the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles doesn't want
any part of that bad juju. The office is offering an option.
Instead of renewing for one year, drivers can renew for
either two or three years so their stickers read 2014 or
In blogs and bridal forums, anxious brides are pondering
whether to get hitched in 2013 or postpone.
"Am thinking of a 2013 wedding," posted one bride to be,
"Jennifervola." "Does anyone consider it bad luck to get
married when 13 is involved, or am I just being crazy?"
The answers were all the same:
"Deff being crazy."
"Oh, for heaven's sake!"
"Jordyana" had more to say: "I'm graduating (from) college in
2013 (and) getting married in 2013. Wanna know something
extra scary? I'm getting married on July 13, 2013! No,
neither (my fiance) nor I believe in superstitions. We do
poke fun, though, and say we won't be cursed for getting
married then since we'll have been together for seven years.
Hopefully the seven will outweigh all the 13s."
Churches say their wedding schedules are as full as ever.
"We haven't had anything slowing down around here," said the
Rev. Bill Porter of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in
Overland Park, Kan. "If anything it seems the pace is
starting to pick up."
Still, some people really do worry about 2013, said Donald
Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center/Phobia
Institute in Asheville, North Carolina.
Dossey has been studying phobias for 18 years, including
triskaidekaphobia and paraskevidekaphobia, the morbid fear of
Friday the 13th. He estimates that up to 19 million people
around the world fear the number 13.
"It will be problematic for some," Dossey said of 2013. "They
might think something ominous will happen, that they might
have a wreck, get ill or even have marital problems. It's
just a nagging sense of impending doom."
But the biggest problems, he says, will come in September and
December, months harboring the year's most ominous dates -
Friday the 13th, 2013!
"On Friday the 13th some people won't even get out of bed,"
"Here we go again," said Joe Nickell, an investigative writer
for Skeptical Inquirer science magazine. "No matter
how often it doesn't come true when people gather and wait
for doom, (some) people always take the bait the next time.
You would think eventually they would learn."
They don't. What about the hundreds of hotels and office
buildings that choose not to have a 13th floor? Or the
hundreds of airports that don't have a Gate 13? Or developers
who bypass 13 when numbering new homes? Or the auto industry
group in Ireland that predicted sales of 2013 models would
plummet by one third in that country (where they know a thing
or two about luck)?
No, this has been going on a while: Long enough for somebody
to figure out that Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer and Jack
the Ripper all have 13 letters in their names.
Long enough to stretch back to early Christianity (where
Jesus was betrayed by Judas, the 13th guest at the Last
Supper), and Norse mythology (where Loki, the 13th guest at a
dinner party, had Balder the Beautiful shot with a
mistletoe-tipped arrow, plunging Earth into darkness).
Long enough, even, for one researcher to discover that
ancient Babylon's Code of Hammurabi, dating to about 1772
B.C., omitted the number 13 in its list of laws.
Cesar Camarillo, a machinist from Kansas City, Kanas, doesn't
put much stock in "curse of 13" as his grandfather called it.
Just the same he'll be wearing his gold cross every day,
carrying a lucky amulet in his pocket and getting two tattoos
on his chest this year - one of praying hands, the other of
the Virgin Mary.
"I don't really believe in this stuff," he said, smiling and
turning quickly to glance behind his back. "Then again, why
tempt fate? You know?"