Frigging Friday the 13th Is Coming
Unleashing a growing fear of another kind
I was born on Friday the 13th. Though many people have a morbid fear of this day known as friggatrisaidekaphobia, it’s always been a delightful day for me. Despite its infamy as the Witches Sabbath, whenever it shows up on the calendar, birthday or not, I celebrate it as “Frigging Friday.” I’ve never been superstitious nor afraid of much, but what I recently discovered about my birthday brings to surface an increasing phobia of my own, chronomentrophobia—the fear of running out of time!
The fear of Friday is also more recently known as paraskevidekatriaphobia. But for some, it’s more about fear of the number 13 wherever it shows up—on a calendar, in an address, part of a sum, etc. This is called triskaidekaphobia and is why many buildings and hotels don’t have a 13th floor, room 13, or 13 steps in a flight of stairs. According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, NC, because of these phobias, US companies will lose $800 million to $900 million in business on Frigging Fridays. Whichever phobia it is, their most dreaded day is approaching for the first of two times this year; September and December.
I consider it a very ‘lucky’ day for me. However, my luck is not based on supernatural phenomena, but on the advantages this day gives me. Because of the people who won’t go out on this day, lines are shorter, fares are cheaper, and the roads are less traveled. I add to this, every opportunity to let people know that I happen to be born on a Friday the 13th, which gives them an unspoken warning to either be nice to me or get far away from me lest I unleash my special wicked power to curse them.
When I realized my birthday would be on Friday this year, it made me wonder how often my birthday falls on Friday. My immediate assumption was that it must be every seven years since each year it falls on a different day and there are seven days in a week. But it didn’t seem that long ago since the last time my birthday fell on Friday, so I looked it up; it was five years ago. That may have had something to do with leap year, I thought, so I looked further back. Before the one five years ago, it had been six years when my birthday fell on Friday and before that, it had been 11 years.
I found that unlike the four year pattern of a leap year, birthdays landing on the same day of the week a person was born on occurs in a cycle of sequences that takes up to 67 years to complete. Based on a branch of math called Combinatorics, it will take five years, six years, or 11 years before your birthday will fall on the same day of the week again. This pattern of years has three set sequences that never change, and determine whether a cycle will last 61, 62, or 67 years. The three sequences are (5, 6, 11, 6, 5, 6, 11, 6, 5), (6, 5, 6, 11, 6, 5, 6, 11, 6), or (11, 6, 5, 6, 11, 6, 5, 6, 11). It seems complicated, but you can easily prove this and find your set of birthday sequences using any online calendar to backtrack the years your birthdays fell on the weekday you were born on.
This is where my chronomentrophobia kicks in, 10 birthdays on the weekday of birth concludes one cycle. Though I am humbly grateful to have had nine birthdays on Friday thus far, this year will be the big 10. Especially notable to triskaidekaphobics is that our average lifespan only allows 13 opportunities to celebrate a birthday on the day of the week we were born on. Not that any number of birthdays is promised to anyone, but if you are generally healthy and don’t live in the middle of a war zone, it’s natural to look forward to the years ahead. However, at best, I only have three Fridays left—if I’m lucky. I’m turning 62 this year, which completes one full cycle of my sequence, so I’m freaking out because I’m running out of Frigging Fridays.