As Stevie Wonder put it in “Superstition,” his classic song from 1972, “when you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer.” So to help ease your fears about Friday the 13th, here are five things to know:
1. It happens every year: This year, we had a Friday the 13th in January and October. A standard year (not a leap year) can have three such Fridays if the year starts on a Thursday. The next time that will happen is 2026, when Friday the 13th will occur in February, March and November.
2. It’s not unlucky for everyone: Famous people born on Friday the 13th include Alfred Hitchcock, Fidel Castro and twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
3. It has its own phobia: Paraskevidekatriaphobia comes from the Greek words for Friday (“paraskevi”), 13 (“dekatria”) and fear (“phobia”). The therapist who coined the term in the 1990s used to tell people that when you can pronounce paraskevidekatriaphobia, you’re cured.
4. Other days are “unlucky”: Superstitious people in Greece and in some Spanish-speaking countries regard Tuesday the 13th as a day of bad luck. Italians consider Friday the 17th unlucky, supposedly because an anagram for XVII, the Roman numeral for 17, is VIXI — or “I lived” in Latin — which suggests imminent death.
5. OK, it’s unlucky for some: The Knights Templar were arrested and tortured on Oct. 13, 1307; a plane crashed in the Andes on Oct. 13, 1972, and the survivors infamously resorted to cannibalism; and on April 13, 2029, a 1,200-foot-wide asteroid will come within 18,000 miles of Earth, which is closer than some satellite orbits.