ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Friday the 13th occurs when the thirteenth day of a month falls on a Friday, which superstition holds to be a day of bad luck.
In the Gregorian calendar, this day occurs at least once, but at most three times a year. Any month's 13th day will fall on a Friday if the month starts on a Sunday.
According to folklorists, there is no written evidence for a "Friday the 13th" superstition before the 19th century.The earliest known documented reference in English occurs in an 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini.
Although most of us would probably affirm that superstition's role in Western culture is now a much diminished one, more a source of amusement than anything else, there are still those who allow their trepidation over particular days or dates to prevent them from engaging in their choice of activities.
We may make jokes about Friday the 13th and only kiddingly instruct loved ones to exercise greater care on that day, but those who suffer from a fear of the number thirteen (triskaidekaphobia) or a fear of Friday the 13th (paraskevidekatriaphobia) may genuinely feel limited by the rumored potential for ill luck connected with the date.
How many Americans at the beginning of the 21st century suffer from this condition? According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of phobias (and coiner of the term paraskevidekatriaphobia, also spelled paraskavedekatriaphobia), the figure may be as high as 21 million.
If he's right, no fewer than eight percent of Americans remain in the grips of a very old superstition.