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A front door numbered 12+1 by a superstitious owner.
A front door numbered 12+1 by a superstitious owner. / SUR
  • Friday 13th produces utter fear and dread for some superstitious people

Today is Friday 13th, a day that is considered unlucky for those of a superstitious nature, for it is believed to be a bad omen and bring misfortune.

Some people, especially in US and UK, will avoid normal daily activities, like driving their car or flying, for fear of some ill-fated conclusion. Others avoid anything that might cause them concern, even though these things pose no threat throughout the rest of the year.

According to the Stress Management Centre and Phobia Institute in North Carolina, an estimated 20 million people in the USA are affected by a phobia of this day, making it the most feared day of the year.

For a month to have a Friday 13th, it must begin on a Sunday. It happens at least once a year in the Gregorian calendar, but can occur up to three times. There have only been two this year and there will be two every year until 2020.

One study by the British Medical Journal concluded that the risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52 per cent on a Friday 13th; subsequent studies however have disproved any correlation between Friday 13th and the rate of accidents.

The fear of the number 13 has a name: triskaidekaphobia; while the scientific term for the fear of Friday 13th is paraskevidekatriaphobia.

Origins

There are, of course, those who believe Friday 13th is just another day-date combination - while dismissing it as superstitious poppycock - but where did it originate and why is it considered such a fateful day?

Theorists have suggested it was the day on which Eve bit the apple from the Tree of Knowledge, and that it was also the day that the Great Flood began. Others claim that the superstition surrounding the day may have arisen from the last supper and the crucifixion, as there were 13 people present at the supper and Christ was crucified on a Friday, although it became known as Good Friday.

Another suggested origin of the superstition relates to 1307, when, on Friday 13 October, hundreds of Knights Templar met their fate, although this may not have been formulated until the 19th century.

However, there is no evidence to support any of these theories, and the origins of the curse of Friday the 13th will remain as curious as the legend itself.

Hollywood

Like most legends and superstitious beliefs, Hollywood has been responsible for fuelling an ongoing interest in this date.

The blockbuster movie franchise, Friday the 13th, comprises twelve slasher films, a television show, several novels, comic books and video games that focus on the fictional mass murderer, Jason Voorhees.

Several of the films were released on Friday 13th and the series became one of the most successful horror movie franchises of the twentieth century, grossing over 460 million dollars at box offices around the world.