The number 13 is often acknowledged as an unlucky number. A surprising number of people actively try to avoid the number wherever possible. So much so, that most elevators do not include a 13th floor and many airlines have eliminated a 13th row from their planes.  Even if you don’t adopt other superstitions like not walking under a ladder or putting up an umbrella inside, most can admit to a small amount of anxiety associated with Friday the 13th. The name for this condition is: paraskevidekatriaphobia.

The term paraskevidekatriaphobia was devised in the early nineties by Dr. Donald E. Dossey, an American psychotherapist who specialized in phobias and stress management. Dossey was reported to claim that when someone was able to pronounce the word, they were cured. Most are familiar with the term, triskaidekaphobia, which was coined in the early twentieth century, typically referring to fear of the number thirteen, but also associated with fear of Friday the 13th.

The origin of associating Friday the 13th with bad luck is not known. It is suggested that it stems from Friday being the day of Christ’s crucifixion, or, the witches’ sabbath, coupled with the ancient Egyptian belief that the death is the 13th stage of life. Perhaps it comes from a fear of Jason Voorhees, the main character in the Friday the 13th movie franchise.

Whatever the roots, it does represent a very real concern to many people. Studies conducted over the years have found that, despite the fact that fewer people choose to travel on Friday the 13th, the number of ER visits and  hospital admissions due to accidents is notably higher than on other Fridays.

If you think that you might be a paraskevidekatriaphobe, here are some interesting facts that pertain to Friday the 13th:

  • Every year has at least one Friday the 13th;
  • If the first day of the month falls on a Sunday, you can expect a Friday the 13th that month; and,
  • Some years have as many as three Friday the 13ths, but it won’t be for a while, since the next year that happens is 2026.

In reality, Friday the 13th is just another day. Whatever you end up doing on Friday the 13th, be safe and maybe steer clear of any stray black cats or ladders.