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 2015.
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," said Dossey.
"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?"