13 Phobias and Superstitions Weirder Than Friday the 13th

Lock your doors and stay inside...

According to Jerry Seinfeld's famous bit about common fears, public speaking ranks higher than death, so that means, "most people would rather be the guy in the coffin than have to stand up and give a eulogy.” Seems odd, but there are plenty more (slightly irrational) superstitions and fears out there even stranger than paraskavedekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th.

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The Number 13

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Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13. Just the amount itself can cause anxiety in some people. However, experts are cautious to label this as an actual phobia because it's not a specific object or situation.

Regardless, the fear of 13 persists. Some hotels won't label their 13th floor, airplanes won't have a 13th row, and some towns will even skip 13th street.

These traditions could stem back to Friday, October 13, 1307, when King Philip IV of France decided to arrest the Knights of Templar, destroying this order of Christian warriors. Or the omen could be traced back to 1760 BC since all of the laws in the Code of Hammurabi were numbered except for the 13th.

But what if whoever etched that code just made a typo?

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The fear of school is called didaskaleinophobia. However, some experts are wary of diagnosing this as an actual phobia and opt for the broader term "school refusal." The anxiety school can cause in some children is very real, but often they are attached to underlying situations like socializing with other students, bullying, or achieving expectations. 

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Blank Canvases

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Artists can suffer from a sort of "writer's block" that causes real anxiety. When faced with a black canvas, some experience an overwhelming sensation that can seem almost paralyzing. While blank canvases can represent opportunity, they can also be viewed as an insurmountable task for an artist who wants to achieve perfection.

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Ornithophobia is the overall fear of birds. Usually, someone with this would have experienced some trauma related to an aggressive bird in their past. Also, according to certain folklore, birds are an omen of impending death.

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The fear of escalators, or escolophobia, is surprisingly common. Some people who claim to suffer from this may actually have a case of vertigo.

Others believe that escalator injuries occur more frequently than they actually do. While escalators have injured riders before, it is often due to risky behavior by the person and not the machine itself.

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Skiers and snowboarders love it, people who have to shovel are annoyed by it, and other are downright scared of it. Typically, chionophobia is a fear associated with hazards linked to snow, like driving conditions, and not the actual flakes themselves. 

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Popcorn at Rodeos and Baseball Games

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Eating popcorn or peanuts is a real no-no for cowboys on rodeo day. Baseball players may avoid these snacks before a big game too. It stems from the idea that a person is more likely to choke on these little pieces of food, which is an understandable problem before a big event. 
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Black Cats

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Black cats were thought to be tied to witchcraft during the middle ages and their mythical nature persisted ever since. However, some regions believe black cats can be good luck, depending on very specific actions: 

  • Black cats appearing at a funeral are thought to signal a family member dying soon after.
  • A black cat walking toward you can bring good fortune, but if the cat is walking away, it takes the luck with it.
  • It's a bad omen for a black cat to cross a person's path in the US, but in the UK it's good luck.  
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In Scotland and England, lending salt is believed to be bring bad luck because it could lead to hostility. If someone spills salt while at dinner with the family, that could signal a big family feud on the horizon. 

To prevent any bad luck from arising, people will often throw salt over their left shoulder. It's believed that an angel sits on the right, but the devil sits on the left and tempts people to do evil. By throwing salt over the left shoulder, you blind the devil.

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Knives as Wedding Gifts

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If the bride and groom are superstitious, the worst wedding gift ever would be anything with a sharp blade. This is a pretty common belief in Europe, Asia, and South America. So if you ever attend a wedding with strong ancestral ties in these areas, let the happy couple buy their own knife set.  

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Books on Chinese New Year

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In cantonese, the word "book" is a homonym for "lose," so don't go buying any reading material in Hong Kong on this day.  

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Two Dollar Bills

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This one stems from casinos. Gamblers have a long history of fearing the $2 bill because it is believed to bring bad luck, especially if they receive one while paying out their chips. In fact, gamblers were so adamantly against $2 bills, that it is thought to be a reason why they are printed less often. 

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It's not just dark, ominous storm clouds that incite fear, even the fluffy white ones can stir up nephophobia. But think about it for a second...these things float miles above our heads, morph into different shapes, and can pour down all kinds of precipitation. That is actually pretty strange! 

Want more on phobias? We have a whole site on it! Phobias.about.com

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Sanchez, Lindsay. "13 Phobias and Superstitions Weirder Than Friday the 13th." ThoughtCo, Sep. 8, 2016, thoughtco.com/phobias-weirder-than-friday-the-13th-3023298. Sanchez, Lindsay. (2016, September 8). 13 Phobias and Superstitions Weirder Than Friday the 13th. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/phobias-weirder-than-friday-the-13th-3023298 Sanchez, Lindsay. "13 Phobias and Superstitions Weirder Than Friday the 13th." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/phobias-weirder-than-friday-the-13th-3023298 (accessed November 17, 2017).