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Friggatriskaidekaphobic is the irrational fear of Friday the 13th. Are you friggatriskaidekaphobic?  If you are, you are in for one hell of year, since there are three (count ’em) Friday the 13ths in the year 2012 — all thirteen weeks apart. How’s that for freaky? A fun fact is that any month that starts on a Sunday will include a Friday the 13th.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia is a condition that between 17 and 21 million Americans actually suffer. Frigga is the name of the Scandinavian fertility goddess and Friday is named after her, triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13. Why the fear of Friday the 13th, anyway?

Superstitions have long surrounded the number 13 in general and Friday the 13th in particular.

  • 80% of high rise buildings do not acknowledge the 13th floor.
  • Many airports skip the 13th gate
  • Some hospital and hotels have no rooms numbered 13.
  • 13 is considered an unlucky number because it follows the number 12, which in numerology is considered a complete number – 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 months of the year, 12 apostles.
  • Fewer car accidents, fires and crimes occur on a Friday the 13th than any other day of the month.
  • Airfare costs on average 12-14% less for travel on Friday the 13th than any other day.
  • In the Canterbury Tales Fridays were considered an unsafe day for travel.
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I am sorry, I can’t help it but there are certain things that are ingrained in us from our parents and grandparents. Superstition or not, dread often accompanies this one – Death comes in Threes. I am a rational, well educated, professional. Yet when I hear that someone I know has died, I hear my grandmother – in fact I hear both my grandmothers’ voices –Death comes in Threes. Now I know that logically if you wait long enough or think hard enough you can link together three deaths that you know, either directly or through acquaintances. But this one somehow fills me with dread and makes my skin crawl. In the past few weeks I learned of three rather unexpected deaths that were all people that I know.

First came the totally unexpected death of my former employer and mentor. He was a man that was like a father to me and quite honestly I knew him almost as long as I knew my own father. His family grew up around me, while I was growing up myself. My children knew him and his family. Our lives were intertwined through the years. He died suddenly and I felt almost like I had lost my own Dad all over again. Next came the death of the father of our good friend and my brother-in-law. A complication from a procedure caused internal bleeding that resulted in his untimely and unexpected death. A man with a heart of gold, a smile for everyone and again, someone that I have know for the better part of 20 plus years. My heart goes out to my brother-in-law and our friend and their entire family – I know too well that no matter how old you are, losing a parent is like losing a part of yourself.

Today, we learned that a very old friend of my husband’s had died. Initially, it was shocking because it struck a little too close to home – he was our exact age with a wife and beautiful daughters, children whose ages almost mirrored our own. The circumstances of his death came later and were, to say the least, even more disturbing. Our hearts and prayers go out to his wife and daughters – may they have some comfort to carry them through their grief.

So, I must side with Grandma and Nanny – it certainly does appear that death comes in threes.

I grew up with Italian grandparents. Superstition and folklore are ingrained in my very being. I can list them here at length but I won’t bore you with that, although it might be a topic for a future post.  Come into my house and throw a pair of shoes on the table and my skin crawls. Anyway, I grew up with the saying that bad things come in three’s. Deaths, misfortune, all that is bad and horrific, always comes in three’s. So when I heard the news that both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson passed away, the first question out of my mouth was “who’s next?” I was assured by my husband (who knows me and loves me anyway) that there were three alreay since Ed McMahon had also passed away. Ahhhh…not that I was happy to hear that but somehow the dread that comes from waiting for the other shoe to drop could be lifted from my shoulders. Weird isn’t it how we are so unaware of all the things that completely shape who we are. I wonder through the years, exactly what weird things I have unintentionally bestowed upon my own children? I don’t see them avoiding black cats, or ladders or throwing salt over their shoulders, so…. maybe I am safe.

In any event, this week the world of entertainment has lost some very iconic individuals. Their loss will be felt for months to come. My condolences go out to the families of these people, may they find some comfort in knowing how much the world will miss their loved ones.

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