For many, Friday the 13th birthdays nothing to fear

While some may see it as being born under a bad sign, notorious day and date is a good luck charm for others




Famous May 13 Birthdays

Robert Pattinson, actor, born 1986

Samantha Morton, actress, born 1977

Stephen Colbert, comedian, born 1964

Dennis Rodman, retired NBA player, born 1961

Stevie Wonder, musician, born 1950

Ritchie Valens, singer, born 1941

Harvey Keitel, actor, born 1939

Beatrice Arthur, actress, born 1923

Joe Louis, boxer, born 1914

Arthur Sullivan, operetta composer, born 1842

Don’t feel jinxed if you broke a mirror while ducking under a ladder to pet black cat this morning.

Friday the 13th isn’t always a day of bad luck.

In fact, for some, like Bud Ferderer, the 13th is more of a charm that makes all sorts of good things happen..

“I was married on July 13th 26 years ago, and I consider that a great day,” said Ferderer, who is celebrating his 48th birthday today. “I have two great kids and a wife that still likes to hang out with me. It’s very lucky.”

Ferderer, who lives in Vancouver, has a long-standing love for his often-maligned birthday number. He even hit it three times in a row while betting on roulette during a recent trip to the casino, he said.

“I play 13 all the time, and it hits more often than not,” Ferderer said. “This Friday the 13th superstition stuff never flew for me. I think if you’re born on the day, you just have a different perspective.”

Dealing with a Friday the 13th birthday really does come down to how you look at it, added Jessica O’Brannon, who is celebrating her 17th birthday today and was also born on a Friday.

She still calls her birth date a bad luck day, but credits her family with helping her see the whole thing in a different way.

“I was born on an unlucky day, but I’m a lucky girl,” O’Brannon said. “My mom and my aunt always told me it brings good luck to my friends and family. I’m their four-leaf clover.”

The Fort Vancouver High School junior said she’s not particularly superstitious anyway. She also doesn’t really believe in the tales of Irish good luck, despite her family ancestry, she said.

“A day is just a day, a number is just a number,” O’Brannon said. “I’ve had black cats walk in front of me, I’ve walked under a ladder, I’ve broken a mirror — nothing’s happened.”

Still, for some, superstition can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you worry about bad luck, the more likely it is to happen — or at least the more likely you are to see it that way, said John Governale, a psychology professor at Clark College.

“The fact is that when people are more anxious, it can interfere with the way they process information,” Governale said. “What people expect can also influence what they experience in various ways. If they believe something is more likely to go wrong, that belief could influence their actions.”

Luck, whether good or bad, is an interesting concept philosophically, he added, because it’s a way for the human mind to understand or explain unpredictable things in the world.

“I don’t think there’s any luck-related dimension of the universe that makes things happen for us, good or bad,” Governale said.

Theories abound as to why Friday the 13th is considered bad luck in the first place, but most agree that superstitions about the number 13 and about Fridays evolved separately and later merged.

“It sort of turned into the perfect storm of superstitions,” Governale said.

When bad reps collide

The number 13 seems to have gotten its bad reputation from its neighbor, 12,

Numerologists for at least the past 2,000 years have considered 12 to be a lucky, or “complete,” number. There are 12 months in the year, 12 hours on the clock, 12 gods of Olympus, and in Christianity there are 12 Tribes of Israel and Jesus had 12 apostles.

Heck, 12 even has its own name: A dozen.

Adding one to 12 to get 13, then, could be considered a disturbing concept for numerologists. You’re adding to a number that is already considered complete — which somehow makes it less complete, or at least gives some folks a sense that the subsequent number should not be trusted.

And beyond the numerology, there are other reasons given for 13’s ill repute. One theory for a Christian dislike of the number is that Judas Iscariot was the 13th person at the Last Supper (Jesus and the 12 apostles add up to 13, and Judas was first to leave and betray Jesus). Following this logic, if you like the number 13, you could be accused of liking Judas.

Another theory is that at the end of the Crusades the Pope — on a Friday the 13th, of course — ordered that the last 13 Knights Templar be hunted down and burned alive, although you could say the lesson there is that it’s bad luck to be a Knight Templar.

Fridays also got a bit of a bad rap from Christians because Jesus was crucified on a Friday, even though Good Friday is not considered to be bad luck.

Some biblical scholars also have suggested that Eve tempted Adam on a Friday and that Cain slew Abel on a Friday, which somehow turned into a belief that it is bad luck to start any new endeavor on that day, including, one would assume, any slaying or tempting.

Nobody knows exactly when the two unlucky concepts merged into an overall fear of Friday the 13th, or “paraskevidekatriaphobia,” as it’s known in psychological terms.

Most literary references that merge the two seem to start in the past two centuries, according to the debunking website

Have no fear

Traci Colwell, who will turn 39 on Oct. 13, said others’ superstitions can mar what should be her special lucky day.

“There’s always that thought of Halloween, witches and black cats, and when it comes up and they find out it’s my birthday, people kind of cringe,” Colwell said. “I get a lot of ‘Oh, that explains it’ jokes. I’ve never been overly excited about it.”

Sarah Abernathy, who turned 59 on Feb. 13, said she thinks hotels and other institutions that avoid using the number 13 for rooms or floors should get over it.

“It’s my favorite number,” Abernathy said. “I always tried to get 13 when I was in sports (at Columbia River High School), but they wouldn’t let me use it. They didn’t have jerseys in women’s track with number 13 when I went to school.”

Either way, both Colwell and Abernathy say that today is not a day to be afraid.

Asked if she had anything else to say on the subject, Colwell finished up with two words:

“Good luck,” Colwell said with a laugh.