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It's amazing really how many superstitions are still thriving in our educated society, and one of the most common is the idea that Friday the 13th is a day when bad luck looms.

Businessmen avoid making deals on this day, people avoid travelling, women fear giving birth, and all sorts of intelligent people are almost afraid to leave the house just because of the date. Silly? Maybe, but nevertheless realistic enough for some.

Hearing a friend say that she'd changed her appointment with the dentist because he'd booked her in for Friday 13th, I decided I'd try to find out a bit more about where this particular superstition came from.

This is what I've come up with.

Evidently, superstitions that surround Friday have been buzzing about since the Ancient Romans dedicated the sixth day to their goddess Venus. The Norsemen, when naming their days, followed the Roman tradition, and named the day after their own goddess, Freya. This eventually evolved into Friday and was considered to be the luckiest day of the week. So, instead of being afraid of it, we should perhaps see it as day to relish. And why not? Friday's the last day of the working week for many, the last day of the school week and fish 'n chip shops often stay open later on Fridays.

So far so good. But things start taking a turn for the worse when we look at religion.

Christians consider Friday to be the day on which Christ was crucified and Muslims believe that Adam was created on a Friday, but later died on a Friday as a result of munching on the forbidden fruit, something that's also supposed to have happened on a Friday.

The Scandinavians believed that the number 13 would bring bad luck due to the mythological 12 demigods being joined by a 13th, an evil one, who brought misfortune upon humans.

In the Christian faith, the number of guests at the party of the Last Supper was 13, with the 13th guest being Judas, the traitor.

When taking both the crucifixion of Jesus and the place of Judas at the Last Supper into consideration, I suppose it's little wonder that the Christians believed Friday 13th to be a day of especially bad significance.

In this world where certain events can be difficult to understand, superstitions spring from beliefs or practices that man has used, or continues to use, to explain events that are beyond his control. It is only when factual evidence is found and a belief disproved, that it becomes a superstition if people continue to cling to the idea. Therefore, the beliefs of today, may very well become the superstitions of tomorrow.

We know that Friday isn't really any different to any other day and that the 13th day is just like the 12th and the 14th. And yet somehow, it's hard to let go of the belief that maybe... well, would you fly on Friday 13th?

- Sharon Jacobsen
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