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Don't step on a crack It's Friday the 13th ... and the full moon rises tonight

Posted: Friday, January 13, 2006

Some superstitious folks may not want to cross the path of a black cat or walk under a ladder today.

Friday the 13th is a date which will live in infamy as unlucky - with much of the credit for the phobia likely going to the horror movie franchise of the same name. But what was a notable day for horror flick fanatics of the 1980s seems to have reached a cinematic lull in recent years.

"I don't know if there is as much attachment to the day as maybe there used to be," Gross Alaska movie theaters General Manager Eric Forst said. "Growing up I remember there was a lot more 'Friday the 13th' and 'Nightmare on Elm Street' and stuff that was all really big when it was Friday the 13th. I don't think it's that big of a deal anymore."

Belief in the day's unluckiness varies.

"If it's a full moon and Friday the 13th, then you're in big trouble," Triangle Club bartender Jennifer Williams said.

Actually, according to the Farmers' Almanac (a publication some claim is driven by superstition) the moon will be full at 4:48 Saturday morning. Tonight will essentially be a full moon - a frightening prospect for some who work at night.

"We have more trouble with full moons," Williams said. "That's what really brings out the crazy people."

Juneau police Sgt. Ed Mercer, who is not superstitious, said Fridays and Saturdays are just busier for officers in general.

"It just depends on what mood people are in, in general, whether it falls on the 13th or not," Mercer said. "Seeing how Friday the 13th does fall on a Friday, it's going to be busy."

The history behind the infamous day is cloudy at best. Numerous cultures have historic phobias of the number 13 or Fridays, ranging from ancient Egypt to the vikings. The myths of Friday the 13th being unlucky might be "exacerbated by 20th-century media hype," according to www.about.com, an online database.

A term for the date has even entered into the American lexicon. Paraskevidekatriaphobia - fear of Friday the 13th - is horrific just to pronounce.

Costa's Diner owner Collette Costa claims to be superstitious to a degree, but only acts on what she calls "anti-superstitions."

"Black cats I don't mind. I don't mind ladders. I have never broken a mirror," Costa said before knocking on the counter of her diner. Then she realized and noted that knocking on wood is another traditional superstition.

"I have pretty hard-core boat superstitions," Costa said. "Never enter a boat with your left foot. Don't whistle in the wheelhouse. Of course the other one says no women on a boat, which makes it difficult because then I can't be on one."

For many, Friday the 13th is just another day on the calendar.

"I barely even notice when it's Friday the 13th," city librarian Sue Fry said.

The phobia of the day and date coinciding doesn't seem to drive readers to the library, Fry said - unlike Halloween might.

Gary Lenox of Downtown Video agreed that the horror film genre doesn't seem to have the same appeal as it once did for video renters.

"I got some Friday the 13th movies over there in that title and I bet you they do not rent this Friday," he said.

Lenox said he thinks Juneau is too educated nowadays to believe in the superstitions of the past.

"We'd like to believe in Big Foot and flying saucers, but I don't know if we really ought to," he said.

Friday the 13th can stick in the back of the mind even for the not-so-superstitious.

"I always try to be a little extra cautious on Friday the 13th," Williams said. "Just more aware of what's going on around me."

The next Friday the 13th will be in October. A full moon comes around most every month.

• Eric Morrison can be reached at eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.



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