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Friday the 13th, and sneezing.

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I found a great article about Friday the 13th, and I wanted to share it with everyone.

The fear of Friday the 13th is known as paraskevidekatriaphobics and if you suffer from it you are not alone.


Dr. Donald Dossey, who is one of the foremost experts on phobias and fear of Friday the 13th in the country, said 18 to 20 million people in the United States are afraid of Friday the 13th. In fact the fear of Friday the 13th is so prevalent that Dossey devoted a chapter to it in his book "Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun: Mythical Origins, Scientific Treatment and Superstitious Cures."


Today, even more people may experience the Friday the 13th jitters than usual.


"We're seeing an uptick in phobias and superstitions," he said. "The sale of astrological and folklore books is increasing astronomically - no pun intended."


In a telephone interview from his home in North Carolina on Thursday, Dossey explained that in times of war, high unemployment and uncertainty people are looking for answers.


Human beings are always trying to find a way to take care of their anxiety and fears," he said. "That's how superstitions got started. Anytime people are more stressed and more fearful we see an increase in superstitious and phobic behavior."


Dossey said the fear of the number 13 predates Christianity and has its roots in a Norse legend of 12 gods at a dinner party. According to legend, a 13th uninvited guest crashed the party and killed the god of joy and gladness, which caused the entire earth to go dark. Dossey said Fridays are feared because witches' covens met Friday and because Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday.


"When you combine 13th and Friday you have the most insidious day in the year," he said. "It's like a double whammy."


Dossey added the fear of the number 13 and of Friday the 13th is so ingrained in our culture that the United States Navy will not launch a ship on Friday the 13th, 80 percent of hotel elevators don't have a 13th floor showing on the elevator button and an estimated $800 million in business is lost in the United States on Friday the 13th.


Dossey said superstitions are more common than believed.


"Everyone is superstitious whether they will admit it or not," he said. "If someone says they're not superstitious ask them if they say 'Bless You' when someone sneezes? People used to believe when someone sneezed the soul could fly out of the body and that is why we say bless you. Superstitions are, by definition, worn out belief systems."


Dossey said he isn't afraid of Friday the 13th but he freely admits he has his own superstitions and lucky rituals.


"I knock on wood and cross my fingers," he said. "When I'm appearing on TV I wear my purple boxer shorts. They are my lucky shorts."


Dossey said if someone is suffering from paraskevidekatriaphobics and it doesn't interfere with normal activities they should just try to relax but if a phobia interferes with a job or relationships, he suggests seeking treatment.


If you're still a little nervous about bad luck today here's another little tip to get you through unscathed - try standing on your head, chewing a piece of beef gristle and swallowing it. Dossey said that technique is designed to bring good luck and it comes from a book of old English magic.

After reading that, I was wondering about the history of sneezing, and I came upon this article:


The custom of saying "God bless you" after a sneeze was begun literally as a blessing. Pope Gregory the Great (540-604 AD) ascended to the Papacy just in time for the start of the plague (his successor succumbed to it). Gregory (who also invented the ever-popular Gregorian chant) called for litanies, processions and unceasing prayer for God's help and intercession. Columns marched through the streets chanting, "Kyrie Eleison" (Greek for "Lord have mercy"). When someone sneezed, they were immediately blessed ("God bless you!") in the hope that they would not subsequently develop the plague. All that prayer apparently worked, judging by how quickly the plague of 590 AD diminished.


The connection of sneezing to the plague is not the first association of sneezing with death. According to Man, Myth, and Magic: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown, many cultures, even some in Europe, believe that sneezing expels the soul--the "breath of life"--from the body. That doesn't seem too far-fetched when you realize that sneezing can send tiny particles speeding out of your nose at up to 100 miles per hour!


We know today, of course, that when you sneeze, your heart doesn't stop, nor will your eyes pop out if you can keep them open, nor does your soul get expelled. What does get expelled are hundreds upon thousands of microscopic germs. The current advice when you sneeze is to cover your mouth with your arm rather than your hand. That way, all those germs won't be on your hands when you touch the countless things you're going to touch in the course of the day (don't tell us; we don't want to know).


Hope you enjoyed the read!




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Hmm, I was always taught that when you sneeze your heart skips a beat and that you say "Bless You" because it's a blessing it continued to beat after. It's interesting to learn about the origins of our most common habits and beliefs.

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It's funny to see how some people are taking such minor things so seriously that they fear them for a reason based on myths and folklore.


However, that "blessing" is not a universal thing. In Hungary, we say "egészségedre", which roughly translates to "for your health". I do not fear the 13th of Friday!

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$800 million in business is lost in the United States on Friday the 13th.

Considering that there were three Friday the 13th's, I guess that means business lost a total of...24 billion?

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