Superstitious New Yorkers Wary On Friday The 13th
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – For most people, the idea of Friday is a fantastic one – except when it falls on the 13th of the month.
Some historians will tell you that the number 13’s bad rap comes from way back. It’s possible it stems from the Last Supper, which 13 people attended, or possibly even further back, as Hammurabi’s Code mysteriously omits the number 13 in its list of laws.
Regardless of its origin, the number 13 and its unlucky legacy has followed us full force into the 21st century.
And on Friday the 13th, some New Yorkers are especially wary.
“It’s hard not to be superstitious in something like Friday the 13th,” said Upper East Side resident Lane Tiers. “So much evidence points to its historical basis.”
As TIME.com reports, the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute estimates that up to $800 million dollars are lost every Friday the 13th due to the superstitious – who are too fearful to make big moves or purchases on the supposedly unlucky day.
As some New Yorkers admit, they are part of those that contribute to the day’s deficit.
“I definitely feel weird about traveling on Friday the 13th,” said Westchester resident Dana Cobert. “I probably wouldn’t fly.”
In the city, the Waldorf-Astoria and the Empire State Building both have a 13th floor – but they are two of the few. Most hotels and tall skyscrapers in the city omit the 13th floor to appease those with a fear of the number.
In the late 1800s, it was a New Yorker who tried to put a stop to the tradition and its effects on society.
William Fowler, a Civil War veteran, founded the Thirteen Club. The group devoted itself to proving superstitious people wrong by doing things like walking under ladders in rooms filled with spilled salt.
Within 10 years, the group had over 400 members – and over time, five U.S. Presidents held honorary memberships: Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.
Even so, Triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13, has maintained its place in New York – especially on Wall Street.
Despite the fact that Black Monday, the day the stock market crashed around the world, wasn’t a Friday and didn’t happen on the 13th (it actually happened on October 19th, 1987), some blamed the fateful day on the fact there were three Friday the 13ths that year.
Perhaps those behind that theory were on to something.
As TIME.com points out, a New York Times article from 1925 notes the anxiety felt by many on day struck by such superstition, suggesting that folks “would no more buy or sell a share of stock today than they would walk under a ladder or kick a black cat out of their path.”
And some New Yorkers are on the same page.
“I probably wouldn’t [invest any money] on Friday the 13th,” said New Yorker Brooke Sager. “That seems a bit risky.”
But some of those in the Empire State aren’t so negative about it.
“I love Friday the 13th!” said Midtown resident Jane Kownacki. “My mom was born on Friday the 13th. Definitely a lucky day.”
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