Informant Info: The informant is an 18-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently a freshman studying Public Policy at USC.
Interviewer: With it being Friday the 13th, do you have any fears or superstitions regarding it?
Interviewee: I don’t like superstitions like Friday the 13th, because 13 is just another number. But, I will say I do believe in other superstitions, and I couldn’t tell you why. For instance, I refuse to walk under ladders, I think I would curl up in a ball and cry if I broke a mirror, and I always throw salt over my shoulder if I spill it. Again… I don’t know why, but I guess just because we grow up with these superstitions all around us and it’s better to be safe than sorry in my book!
The informant names many of the common superstitions in America, even though she started answering the question be saying she doesn’t like superstitions. Her response seems to be properly in line with many individuals who question the truth/logic behind superstitions by stating that “it is better to be safe than sorry.” A similar response is often found in Ireland when people are asked about the fairy folk.
Treat is a new friend of mine. We shared two classes this semester. He’s a sophomore transferring from Norwich University. He is in the same NROTC unit I’m in here at USC. He’s lived in some very interesting places like Italy and the Netherlands. They move around to such cool places because his father is in the military and that’s where his father got orders to. Treat really likes ghost stories and Mythology. It was not hard interviewing him in the least bit. He had stories I had never heard of or could’ve even imagined.
Treat loves urban legends. I really like movies and documentaries about interesting and maybe even horrifying things. He put two and two together and started to chat about Friday the 13th. A great movie franchise! But where does the suspicion come from? What came first the movie or the bad luck?
Treat talks about an article that looked into what happens concerning accidents on the 13th. The article compared the ratio of traffic volume to the number of automobile accidents on two different dates including Friday the 13th. Over a period of years they mapped “the relation between health, behavior, and superstition surrounding Friday 13th.” Interestingly, they found that while consistently fewer people in the region sampled chose to drive their cars on Friday the 13th, the number of hospital admissions due to accidents was higher than on the other days.
“Friday 13th is unlucky.”
Treat: Because we make it unlucky.
Analysis: Sometimes we fall into our own traps. Things happen because we make them happen. Paraskevidekatriaphobics is the disease of those afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th. It’s unwise to take solace in the results of a single scientific study though. Not all culture and society should change their habits because of one sample, especially one as weird as this. Surely these statistics have more to teach us about human physiology than the ill-fatedness of any particular date on the calendar. In the United States today. Some people refuse to go to work on Friday the 13th; some won’t dine in restaurants; many wouldn’t think of setting a wedding on that date. I know I won’t. So, how many Americans at the beginning of the 21st century actually suffer from this condition? You’d be surprised.