Shelby's reaction to Friday the 13th

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Friday the 13th is a superstitious symbol, but do you really believe it’s a problem – fingers crossed or not?

By Lisa King

As you head out to work today, will you avoid black cats, ladders and looking in your rearview mirror for fear of cracking it? Or will you scoff at those who fear Friday 13th?

After all, it's just another day.

Or is it?

Triskaidekaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th, whether you take it seriously or not, has had a real impact on American society.

The phobia is rooted in the ancient negative associations surrounding the number 13 and Friday, which combine to make a super unlucky day. Have you ever seen a hotel floor or hospital room numbered 13 or a Gate 13 at an airport? Probably not.

National Geographic explains on its Web site, www.nationalgeographic.com, that bad luck associations concerning the number 13 have Biblical origins, with the apostle Judas being the 13th guest at the Last Supper and Christ being crucified on Friday.

Also, the number 13 is considered unlucky because it is outside the realm of completeness. For example, there are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 tribes of Israel and 12 apostles of Jesus.

Lee Bean, former minister of Dover Baptist Church, who left that position to run a men's homeless shelter on 8th Street, points out that down through the centuries, many people have made what they will out of Biblical references to numbers, especially the number 666.

"There are a lot of interpretations about what that means," he said. "It's in the book of Revelations. It's the mark of the beast; we attribute that to mean Satan. And the number seven, that's considered good luck, because in the Bible, it signifies completeness and being whole.

“God created the world in six days, and on the seventh, he rested."

Knowing more about the origins of these superstitious than most people, Bean takes the mysticism surrounding Friday the 13th and other superstitions with a grain of salt.

"I've never been bothered by it; we know who wins in the end, so that's where we should put our faith," he said.

Most people interviewed by The Sentinel-Newssaid they will venture out today with no misgivings, although Jennifer Skinner did chuckle as she recalled some peculiar phobias practiced by an aunt.

"She's superstitious about her socks," she said. "She puts them on in a certain way, and she has to go out the same door she went it."

Joy Bolton said she has no superstitions at all, not about Friday the 13th or anything else.

"I don't do astrology, either, it's contrary to my faith system," she said. "Well, you know, I laugh along with everybody else, and say things, like, 'Oh, it must be Friday the thirteenth,' but in reality, no."

Rusty Newton said that as Bagdad fire chief he can't afford to be superstitious and permit his firefighters to avoid ladders.

"As for Friday the thirteenth, I just treat it like any other day," he said. "I don't know if any of my guys have any superstitions about going out that day, but all I have to say is, if we get an emergency call, then superstitions have to go out the window."

Along with superstitions associated with bad luck, such as walking under a ladder, opening an umbrella indoors, breaking a mirror or encountering a black cat, there are also many superstitions associated with good luck.

Many of these involve finding certain objects, such as a penny, a horseshoe or a 4-leaf clover or being given things, such as rabbit's foot.

Everyone has heard of crossing your fingers, just for luck. Just where this practice originated from is unknown, but it signifies the sign of the cross and people would do it when they wished to ask for God's help.

The practice of crossing one's fingers behind his back came from the age of religious persecution. When a Christian was asked if he or she was a Christian, they would say no and cross their fingers behind their backs to ask for God's forgiveness for the lie.

Ever knocked on wood? This dates back to a Pagan belief that some Gods lived in trees and one must rap on the tree to acknowledge their presence and invoke good luck.

After today, those with triskaidekaphobia won’t be finished with the phobia: There are three Friday the 13ths in 2012.

The third "unlucky" day will fall on July 13.

National Geographic explains that it's not possible to have a year with no Friday the 13ths or to have a year with more than four with the dreaded date, because of the way the Gregorian calendar is laid out.

At least one person in Shelby County won't be worried about trying to ward off bad luck today.

Eileen Collins says she actually looks forward to the date.

"I will be going about my business as usual, getting ready for Earth Day at the park on Saturday," she said. "And I have had some good things happen on Friday the thirteenth, and I know some very good people that were born on this day, so for me, it's not unlucky at all, quite the opposite."