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Most people in the dark about Black Friday, s -

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Most people in the dark about Black Friday, say sceptics

The World Today - Friday, 13 March , 2009 12:58:00

Reporter: Zoie Jones

TANYA NOLAN: If you suffer from the rare disorder triskaidekaphobia or fear of the number 13, you
may not dare get out of bed today.

Yes, it's Friday the 13th, the second Black Friday so far this year and the second in two months.

But sceptics say superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th are dying out.

Zoie Jones reports.

ZOIE JONES: On the streets of Sydney this Friday the 13th there aren't many people obviously
avoiding walking under a ladder or looking out for black cats about to cross their path.

VOX POP 1: No, I didn't even realise.

ZOIE JONES: Does Friday the 13th bother you?

VOX POP 2: No, not really. I was born on Friday the 13th.

ZOIE JONES: Has anything bad ever happened to you on a Friday the 13th?

VOX POP 2: No, it's my lucky number actually.

ZOIE JONES: Friday the 13th is a double whammy in the unlucky stakes. While theories differ about
its origin, superstitions surrounding both Fridays and the number 13 stretch back for centuries.

Today large hotels are one of the few places where there's stark evidence of the fear of the number
13.

Raymond George is a concierge at a large city hotel.

RAYMOND GEORGE: No we don't have a 13th floor actually because most of the Asian hotels, they don't
have a 13th floor.

ZOIE JONES: Why is that?

RAYMOND GEORGE: Everyone consider it bad luck maybe.

ZOIE JONES: In your experience working in overseas hotels, is it common for hotels to have a level
12 and then 14?

RAYMOND GEORGE: Like I used to work in Asia, Dubai and Doha, Qatar, overseas so we do have 13th
floor, yeah.

ZOIE JONES: So there is not that suspicion?

RAYMOND GEORGE: No, not at all.

ZOIE JONES: Do you hold superstition about the number 13 and particularly about Friday the 13th?

RAYMOND GEORGE: Me, myself, no way. No. I don't believe in superstitions.

(Sound of violin)

ZOIE JONES: Sitting in the hotel foyer is a group of musicians from Greek Cyprus. They have a
different take on Friday the 13th.

MUSICIAN: We have Tuesday the 13th which is kind of similar. It is based on the fact that when the
Turks came and took Constantinopolis on 1453 it was Tuesday 13th so it's a bad day for us.

ZOIE JONES: Is it a bad luck day?

MUSICIAN: Yes.

ZOIE JONES: So what sorts of things would people do to avoid bad luck on Tuesday the 13th? Like if
a black cat walked across your path?

MUSICIAN: Yeah, we have these things also. Avoid ladders. This kind of stuff. I think it is
globally understood.

KAREN STOLLZNOW: I was actually scheduled to be born on Friday the 13th for a caesarean section and
my mother brought forward my birth so that I was born on Thursday the 12th.

ZOIE JONES: Fear of Friday the 13th may have accompanied her birth but Dr Karen Stollznow has
become the editor of The Skeptic magazine. She says fear of Friday the 13th is dying out.

KAREN STOLLZNOW: Every time Friday the 13th comes around it's something that people raise but it's
something that they raise less and less. I think over the years I've noticed a decrease in interest
or fear of the date.

Really this is something that we're sort of socialised into when it's passed down to future
generations but less and less as the years go by and people are really becoming less interested in
this particular superstition.

But overall my parents are quite superstitious but I don't think that anyone, most people anyway,
would really put off doing important things.

In fact my father is just flying to San Francisco today and he did remark on Friday the 13th and it
was purely because he had to look at the calendar and he said, 'Oh Friday the 13th, I'm flying
today,' and made a joke about it. But I don't think he was scared at all. He certainly didn't put
off his flight.

TANYA NOLAN: Dr Karen Stollznow from the Skeptic magazine and that report from Zoie Jones. And
wishing all the superstitious plenty of good luck today.