Are you friggatriskaidekaphobic?

As I turn another year wiser today, I thought it's time to contradict the Friday the 13th phobics

Gina Lumauig. Celebrating Friday the 13th.

MANILA, Philippines – Do you have Paraskevidekatriaphobia, or the fear of Friday the 13th? Apparently a lot of people do. This urban legend of misfortunes happening on this particular day, although not necessarily scientifically proven, has a lot of phobics scared beyond their wits upon learning it is (or will be) Friday the 13th.

They do not go out, do not work, do not eat out, do not book any flight, and heaven of heavens, will never get married on that day. In case they need to go out, they have to be extra, extra careful. They dare not cross the street if they see a black cat. Better make that sign of the cross once they do! The way I see it, I guess they just have to sleep through the day and wait for Saturday the 14th to arrive.

I am definitely not Friggatriskaidekaphobic (another term for people who fear Friday the 13th – Frigga is a Norse goddess and her name means Friday) because my birthday happens to be on the 13th day of January, and although I was born on a Wednesday, I turned 13, and 30, both on a Friday. And as I turn another year wiser today, Friday the 13th, I thought it’s a good time to contradict the Friday the 13th phobics (it’s easier to write it than those two horribly long terms).

Many, many years ago (please don’t ask exactly when), when I realized that I was going to turn 13 on a Friday of January (which makes it, technically, the 13th month of the year, yes?), I excitedly mentioned it to my father. He, who is extremely superstitious (ok, a Friday the 13th Phobic), just gave me that panicked smile.

You know, a father’s smile to his youngest, (most favorite) daughter, seventh child, then a very active Volleyball player of St. Theresa’s College, above average student, president of her class in 5th grade, but at the same time, probably thinking: “goodness, Friday the 13th!” (We have a long dining table good for 12 people; the first time our growing family had to sit one more than 12, he “graciously” asked the lucky 13th member of the family to sit in the nearby bar table). The normal birthday celebration for us children then would be dinner at home prepared by my mother, attended by our Dait-Lumauig clan; that enough would fill up our home.

So on my 13th birthday, being a school day, and having a volleyball competition (I think it was with WNCAA), which we had won again, I invited my team members and some classmates for dinner at home. I was tomboyish, wearing my volleyball uniform, and starving! I was just really looking forward to my birthday dinner (and cake)!

Lo and behold, when I got home, not only were family members there, they surprised me with the Bayanihan dancers right there in our terrace, dancing Tinikling! What the heck? I don’t think my friends thought, “cool party!” Especially after we were coaxed to dance tinikling with the heavily made-up male dancers.

Time to celebrate

After that unforgettable birthday, I went through more Friday the 13th birthdays – when I turned 19, 25, then 30. No more pleasant surprises there. And mind you, no untoward incidents (or accidents) whatsoever, thank you very much.

In fact, I even adopted a black cat back in high school. When I turned 25, I was already a mother of two precious babies. And when I turned 30, I was back from a seven-year stay in the US, managing my own business and enjoying being a grad student. So who says Friday the 13th brings ill luck?

All right, so my birthday this year once again falls on Friday the 13th. I mentioned it already to my dad. I don’t think (I hope not!) he will try to have the Bayanihan dancers over again. We will probably just have an intimate family dinner (read: at least 30 is intimate for our clan) and thank our High Heavens and Mother Earth for many, many years of blessings.

I may have gone through many trials, tests and tribulations, both personally and professionally, but I refuse to attribute it to being a Friday the 13th occasional birthday celebrant. As I have just started to find my own sacred space after my two wonderful children set out to make their mark in this world, I am also grateful for my healthy 78-year-old doting and supportive parents, my five siblings, many nephews/nieces/grandnephews/grandnieces, relatives and friends and a loving boyfriend who understands my craziness. 

To my fellow Friday the 13th celebrants, happy happy birthday! Let’s NOT stay in, let’s work, let’s eat out, and let’s thank God it’s Friday the 13th! –

The author is an educator, volunteer, proud mother of two, proudly Ifugao, and proudly non-Paraskevidekatriaphobic. She may be reached at

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