By Kathy Josenhans
Before you sit down with your coffee to read this column, I want you to do three things: Knock on wood, find your old rabbit's foot and cross your fingers. Now you've broken any evil spell that could come your way, and I feel better.
I'm sure we will have a beautiful sunny day in Florida and could probably accomplish many needed tasks outdoors.
Unfortunately, many Floridians and countless others in America will not even attempt to conquer their fears today by traveling anywhere. According to statistics, more than $1 billion will be lost today across the country because of one simple little word:
Paraskevidekatriaphobia (pair.uh.skee.vee.dek.uh.tree.uh.FOH.bee.uh). Aka: Fear of Friday the 13th.
Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of phobias, says if you learn to pronounce and say the word, you will be cured.
Whew, what a relief.
I hope those of you that have been forever frozen on those Fridays that included the number 13 can move on with your lives.
I, however, will go about my day in the not unusual manner of chaotic routine. I've never put much thought in many superstitions, and after understanding Friday the 13th, I'm glad I didn't.
After researching, I've learned that the origin and history of the superstition is very interesting:
It is said that if 13 people sit down to dinner together, all will die within the year. Oh my! The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was practically expunged from their vocabulary (Brewer, 1894). Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don't have a 13th floor. I have noticed that. If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil's luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy, Albert De Salvo and Aileen Wuornos all have 13 letters in their names). Wow, I'm lucky! I'm one letter over, and I don't own any weapons. There are 13 witches in a coven. It's also on a Friday that Eve ate the forbidden apple. Well, I've eaten many apples on Fridays, and it does keep the doctor away.
With that said, there are also good things that happen on this Friday. For most folks it's payday, and the weekend is here finally.
For those that still believe in this superstition, you will join approximately 21 million people around the world and heed the day by not leaving home.
As far as superstitions in general, I find I'm a little weird. I automatically expect company when I drop silverware and usually let everyone in the household know.
If I tip over the saltshaker, I shake a bit over my left shoulder. I never get out of bed starting with my left foot, and I put the sign of the cross on my car's windshield if a black cat crosses my path. It's not that I truly believe in superstitions. I guess I've picked up some quirks through the years from friends and family.
Just remember one thing: If your day starts out badly, just turn around clockwise three times and you've freed yourself and reversed bad luck.
Or better yet, I think I will incorporate new ways to break the curse of Friday the 13th - and other superstitions - by eating 13 Lifesavers candy pieces, buying a baker's dozen of donuts and spending $13 at the dollar store! Doesn't that sound good?
Kathy Josenhans lives in Port Orange with her husband, Frank, and their German shepherd, Heidi, and a cat named Bogie after Humphrey Bogart. She can be reached at Kjosenhans@gmail.com.