Just another day?

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By Becca Owsley

Today is the only Friday the 13th this year. It will occur three times in 2009 in February, March and November.   By BECCA OWSLEY


Friday the 13th usually conjures images of bad luck, superstitions and hockey masks.

Are people still superstitious of the date today?

While shopping in Elizabethtown, Amy Montoya said she will just let the day happen. While she’s not superstitious or leery of the day, she said her husband does talk about zombies a lot.

Twelve-year-old Matthew Burba wasn’t worried about it Thursday, but a few weeks ago, after he realized the day was coming up, he told his mom he thought someone might do something to scare him or do something bad to him.

The date brought forth images for him of old scary movies.

Lori Williams of Elizabethtown said the 13th has been good to her. She married her husband, Kent, on the 13th day of the month, and their anniversary sometimes falls on a Friday, so they have never been too worried about the day. 

Historians of folklore can’t pin down a specific event that led to Friday the 13th being considered unlucky, but they point out a variety of events and phobias that may have led to this superstition.

One theory recently voiced in literature by conspiracy theory authors dates back to the Knights Templar.

On Friday, Oct. 13, 1307, King Philip IV of France enforced a raid on the Templars arresting thousands of them.

In an article on the Web site about.com, David Emery wrote there is no real evidence of individuals claiming the day as unlucky until the 19th century, and nothing consistent until the 20th century.

Many scholars say people have combined two superstitions into one making it the super villain of all bad luck. Some say the number 13 is bad luck and some say Friday brings bad luck. At some point, the worries have been combined to create the Friday the 13th superstition.

Fear of this day — called paraskevidekatriaphobia — prompted a study by the British Medical Journal in 1993.

Researchers compared the ratio of traffic volume to the number of accidents on Friday the 6th and on Friday the 13th over a period of years. While fewer people drove on those days, the number of hospital admissions resulting from car wrecks was significantly higher than on a typical Friday.

Their conclusion: “Friday the 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a result of transport accident may be increased by as much as 52 percent. Staying at home is recommended.”

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, England, said on the National Geographic News Web site that people sometimes create this sort of “bad luck” for themselves. By being more anxious about Friday the 13th, people are more prone to have accidents just out of the worry.

“Their beliefs and behavior are likely to be part of a much bigger world view — they will believe that luck is a magical force and that it can ruin their lives,” Wiseman said.

Although in a 1990 Gallup poll, 9 percent of Americans believed Friday the 13th is jinxed — some pointing to the failed Apollo 13 space mission as proof — most people let the day pass unnoticed.

It appears that’s the case in Hardin County, as well. The County Clerk’s office and Circuit Clerk’s office reported no difference in marriage licenses filed or traffic citations administered last year on Friday the 13th compared to any other Friday.

So today don’t be afraid to be the 13th guest to dinner, visit the 13th room in a building and go about your day like any other. 

  Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741.