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Friday the 13th: History, superstitions, fun facts and events in Atlanta

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Many frown upon Friday the 13th because it’s a day that is considered unlucky. Unlike in years past, 2014 has only one Friday the 13th on the calendar. It will also be a full moon right after midnight, making this Friday the 13th even spookier. So, how did the dreaded day originate and are the superstitions true? Below is a bit of history about Friday the 13th, some fun facts and superstitions, and events in Atlanta to turn Friday the 13th in 2014 into a fun family day.

The history of Friday the 13th
The earliest reference to Friday the 13th was made in 1869 when Henry Sutherland mentioned the date in his biography on Gioachino Rossini. Since then, Friday the 13th has evolved into a date that as many as 21 million people fear. The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia.

The actual origins of the fear of Friday the 13th are unknown, but some believe that Norse mythology might be to blame. According to legend, 12 gods were at a banquet at Valhalla when Loke, the demi god of mischief who was not invited, turned up, bringing the total number of guests to 13. He was responsible for the chaos that led to the death of one of the good gods – Balder – so all the gods grieved. Others believe that Friday the 13th relates to events from the Christian Bible.

The impact of Friday the 13th on society
According to Dr Donald Dossey, author and founder of the Stress Management Center/Phobia Institute, up to 21 million Americans fear Friday the 13th. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines that day. According to T.J. Scanlon in an article titled “Is Friday the 13th Bad for your Health?”, businesses can suffer an $800-$900 million dollar loss on Friday the 13th. However, airlines report no noticeable drop in travel on Friday the 13th. On the other hand, traffic accidents rise slightly and mothers-to-be often avoid Friday the 13th for scheduled c-sections.

Fun facts about Friday the 13th:

  • Not all countries and societies consider Friday the 13th unlucky.
  • In Greece and Spanish-speaking countries, Tuesday the 13th is considered unlucky, not Friday the 13th.
  • Hollywood commercialized on people's fear with the cult horror film "Friday the 13th" and its sequels. The movie was renamed Tuesday the 13th ("Martes 13") in many Spanish-speaking countries.
  • A British couple bought their winning lottery ticket on Friday the 13th after a mirror at their home fell down and broke. The lucky couple won $17 million.
  • The ancient Egyptians thought the number 13 was lucky because they believed that the 13th stage of life was related to the afterlife.
  • It is considered especially unlucky to have 13 people at the table during a meal, such as in Agatha Christie's mystery novel, "Thirteen at Dinner."
  • Many hotels in Las Vegas do not have a “13” elevator button because it’s considered unlucky.
  • In 2014, Friday the 13th occurs only one time on Friday, June 13. Friday the 13th occurred twice in 2013, but three times in 2012.
  • Many hospitals have no room 13, while some tall buildings skip the 13th floor and some airline terminals omit Gate 13.
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover also feared the number 13.

Friday the 13th (June 13) events in Atlanta in 2014
Friday the 13th can be a bit scary, especially to younger kids. If your own child is fearful of the date, take the opportunity to turn Friday the 13th into a fun family day. Below are some events happening on June 13, 2014 in and around Atlanta.

  • Friday night fireworks at Turner Field. On Friday night, why not catch the Atlanta Braves in action when they take on the Los Angeles Angels at Turner Field? The game begins at 7:30 and ends with a post-game fireworks display. To order tickets, head to the official Atlanta Braves website.
  • Atlanta Dream at Phillips Arena. If basketball is your sport, head over to Phillips Arena for the Dream’s opening night. The women will take on Minnesota and the game begins at 7:30. Go to the Atlanta Dream website for tickets and more information.
  • Scavenger hunt at Centennial Park. Use your smartphone to solve clues as you make your way through downtown Atlanta. Complete in challenges and find hidden gems. Sign up online via the Urban Adventure Quest website. Use promo code ACCESSATLANTA for 20% off.
  • "Cat in the Hat" play at the Center for Puppetry Arts. Join the Cat in a tall hat, Sally, Fish, Thing 1 and 2 for Dr. Suess’s “The Cat in the Hat” at the Center for Puppetry Arts. Show times on Friday, June 13 are 10 a.m. and 12 noon. To order tickets, click here.
  • River canoe trips and nature hikes at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Families in Atlanta love to explore natural wonders at the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell. Outdoor options include guided canoe trips and nature hikes. For a complete list of activities on Friday the 13th, head to CNC’s calendar of events.
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