Friday The 13th: What Gave Rise to the Fear of this Dreaded Date?

REUTERS/Ali Jarekji/FileFile photo shows a black cat looking through its cage at a pet shop. Superstitious people believe that black cats bring bad luck.

While October is already considered spooky because of Halloween, it has even become scarier today for superstitious people because the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday.

Today is the second and last Friday the 13th this year, with January 13th being the first. While January 13th passed without doing a single harm to many people, even to those superstitious ones, many are still expected to dread and take precautionary measures today as they continue to believe that Friday the 13th is an ominous date.

While the belief in the bad luck that Friday the 13th supposedly brings has been around for centuries already, its exact origin is unclear. However, Stuart Vyse, a professor of psychology at Connecticut College in New London, suspects that the fear of Friday the 13th is rooted on the 13th guest at the Last Supper, Judas, and the crucifixion of Christ himself on a Friday.

Vyse's claim was echoed by "The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland" author Steve Roud, who believes as well that the combination of the regarded two unlucky factors gave rise to the fear of Friday the 13th. 

"Because Friday was the day of the crucifixion, Fridays were always regarded as a day of penance and abstinence. This religious belief spilled over into a general dislike of starting anything - or doing anything important - on a Friday," Roud explained to BBC.

While it is true that the perils that Friday the 13th brings are anchored on superstitious beliefs, Jane Risen, a behavioral scientist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, claims that even non-superstitious people believe that unfortunate events that happen to them, especially on Friday the 13th, are a result of bad luck.

"Generally speaking, I find that this occurs because the bad outcome springs to mind and is imagined more clearly following the jinx. People use the ease of imagining something as a cue to its likelihood," Risen told National Geographic.

Apart from believing in bad luck, Risen has also discovered that people resort into rituals in order to avert any unfortunate event from happening. Among the many superstitious rituals that are commonly practiced to prevent bad luck, Risen revealed that knocking on wood is the most commonly practiced.

"So, the ritual does seem to help manage their concern," Risen said.