Today is Friday the 13th. Most people believe “Friday the 13th” as an ominous day. It’s a bizarre thing, but apparently true, that a substantial number of us would confess to feeling slightly anxious when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday. There is in fact a name for this phenomenon — and get ready because it’s rather a mouthful — paraskevidekatriaphobia.

Fri 13 CartoonNo-one is quite certain why people associate Friday the 13th with bad luck. While folklore historians say it’s tough to pinpoint exactly how the taboo came to be, many believe it originates from the Last Supper, and the 13 guests who sat at the table on the day before the Friday on which Lord Jesus was crucified.

But there are many other theories of how the ominous day came to be considered the harbinger of bad luck. The number 13 also holds some cultural, religious and mythical significance in history, which hints that it is a bad day.

The term paraskevidekatriaphobia was first coined in the early nineties by Dr. Donald E. Dossey, an American psychotherapist specialising in phobias and stress management, who reputedly claimed that that “when you learn to pronounce it, you’re cured!” The term is based on the Greek words paraskevi (Friday) and dekatria (thirteen) with -phobia as a suffix to indicate ‘fear’. So say it all together:  para-skev-EE-dek-a-tri-a-pho-bia. 🙂

Not all cultures, however, believe Friday the 13th is unlucky. In Greek and Hispanic cultures, Tuesday the 13th is considered far more ominous. In Italy, Friday the 17th is spookier than the 13th.

Any month that starts with a Sunday will contain a Friday the 13th, and there can be as many as three of them a year. For what it’s worth to believers, there is only one Friday the 13th this year and it occurs today. So whatever you are doing today, do it safely and remember the best thing about Friday the 13th – is that it’s the weekend in the Middle East and the day after is Saturday, the weekend elsewhere!

May your irrational superstitions haunt you today! And enjoy the weekend!