UNDATED - If you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th ('F13'), then 2015 is going to be a bad year for you.
It started with February 13, but then 'F13' will return two more times this year: a superstition trilogy courtesy of the calendar! Of course, with only 28 days in February, the March return of 'F13' comes as no surprise. But another 'F13' in November? Wait, that's 39 weeks after February 13 and 3 x 13 = 39. There's that number 13 again!
Well, thank the modern calendar and blame Thursday, January 1 for the 'F13' hat trick. If the year starts on a Thursday and it is not a Leap Year, then prepare for the 'F13' trio. Don't want to stick Thursday with the stigma? Okay, then blame Sunday. February, March and November of this year will all start with a Sunday and that means 'F13' pops up in each month.
What's the history behind friggatriskaidekaphobia? Apparently, there is no clear-cut "that's it" explanation for the superstition. But, the consensus among historians and folklore experts is that it is a relatively new anxiety with no references to the peculiar date or the phobia evident prior to the late 1800s.
'F13' has likely evolved through the morphing of several traditions and beliefs. Historically, there has always been a dark pall cast over Fridays in the Christian church, largely because the crucifixion of Christ is remembered on a Friday. Back in the Middle Ages, people would not marry, and it is said that they would not travel, on Fridays.
What's more, some Christians once referred to Friday as the Witches' Sabbath. The name for Friday is associated with Frigg, the love goddess and wife of Odin in Norse mythology, which is a pagan tradition in the eyes of the Church.
As for '13' being an unlucky number, here again, there is some uncertainty as to where that tradition began. Most likely, it also has a tie-in to Christianity, this time with the Last Supper. Thirteen attended the Last Supper, including Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ. Even today, there are social etiquette 'experts' that frown upon inviting 13 guests to a dinner or party. So serious is the 'fear of 13' that we have some tall buildings numbered without a 13th floor and some hotels that exclude a Room No. 13!
Actually, three 'F13' occurrences in a year is far from rare. In fact, the last occurrence was in 2012. But wait. 2012 was a Leap Year. Correct, but the 2012 trio did not occur in February, March and November. Instead, they occurred in January, April and July. A Leap Year can have three 'F13s' if the year starts on a Sunday.
And the next year on the books that will deliver three 'F13s' is not until 2026, so relax.
In the meantime, Hollywood and 'Jason' have done their combined best to elevate Friday the 13th from superstition to cult legend. In today's world, black cats, rabbit's feet, broken mirrors and garlic take a backseat to the star power of 'F13.'
What's your biggest phobia? Mine is bossophobia, which is a fear of bosses.
Note: Thanks to EarthSky News for much of the content.