The realisation that its Friday 13th is often reason enough for many people to hide under their duvets, only to resurface 24 hours later when the date on the calendar has changed. For millions of people with an all too real fear of Friday the 13th or 'friggatriskaidekaphobia,' flying is strictly off limits, with airlines suffering the biggest losses on the most feared day of the year. Driving is to be avoided and there'll definitely be no surgical procedures. And let's face it, who would choose Friday 13th for their wedding day?
Every year has at least one Friday the 13th, considered to be the unluckiest day in the Gregorian Calendar, spelling doom and misfortune. But the truth is, there is no legitimate reason to fear the date, despite how inauspicious it is thought to be.
The origins behind the superstition surrounding the ominous calendar date are obscure and varied. The first documented mention of the day can be found in a biography of Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th. Others believe that the myth has Biblical origins, since Jesus was crucified on a Friday and there were 13 guests at the Last Supper the night before his crucifixion.
Another account suggests that the day has been associated with misfortune since 1307, when on a Friday the 13th, the French king gave the orders to arrest hundreds of Knights Templar.
Friday used to be called 'hanging day,' as it was customary to execute criminals on this day. There were 13 steps up to the scaffold, 13 turns in a hangman's noose and 13 pence and a halfpenny paid to the hangman. American pirate Albert W Hicks was hanged on Friday the 13th of July, 1860 after he confessed to having murdered 100 people.
Of course, tragic events in history have added to the notion of Friday 13th being an ill-fated day. The Nazis dropped a bomb on Buckingham Palace on Friday the 13th of September 1940, as part of the Blitz during World War II, just as the Royal family was taking tea.
On Friday the 13th, October 1972, a plane crashed in the Andes. Twelve people died instantly and more were killed in an avalanche later. Those who survived did so by resorting to cannibalism. The Andes crash was later turned into the film, "Alive." And in 2012, the cruise ship Costa Concordia partially sank on Friday the 13th. Over 30 people died.
But perhaps fear of Friday the 13th might have been perpetuated by the commercially successful Friday the 13th enterprise, which includes 12 horror movies, a television series and several books that focus on curses and superstitions. As fiction is confused with fact, and the films play on our worst fears, the day has taken on whole other sinister meaning.
It could all be the result of overactive imaginations that lead to something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, as those who anticipate misfortunate find themselves focused on everything that could go wrong and unwittingly tempt fate. As for natural disasters, plane crashes and tragedies, one look at a daily newspaper and you'll find horrific events happen every day around the world.
In fact, many studies have shown that Friday the 13th has little or no effect on events such as accidents, hospital visits and natural disasters, and there is very little evidence to show that it is indeed an unlucky day. For some it might in fact be a day of great fortune.
For Daniel Bruckner, Friday the 13th turned out to be the luckiest day of his life, after he won the Mega Millions prize of $208 million on January 13, 2012.
And for many it's actually a day for celebration. While some mothers may try to go to great lengths to avoid giving birth on Friday 13, many new parents would tell you it was the best day of their lives as they welcomed a child into the world. Many people celebrate their birthdays on the most feared date of the year, including Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, novelist and playwright, Samuel Beckett, Boardwalk Empire star Steve Buscemi, The Sound of Music star Christopher Plummer, former President of Cuba, Fidel Castro and perhaps fittingly, the master of suspense Alfred Hitchock.
For those who happen to die on Friday 13th, you can safely say it was a bad day for them, but the truth is, there is little reason to fear it.
While social media is awash with people expressing ther fears for the day ahead, they might be reminded that it is just another day. And the good news about Friday 13th is, that for most people, its followed pretty quickly by a Saturday off.