13/04/2018 12:39 SAST | Updated 13/04/2018 12:39 SAST

If You're Paraskevidekatriaphobic, Stay Away From These 13 Things This Friday The 13th

Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th.

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The superstitious consider Friday the 13th an unlucky day, and the fear is so widespread that there is even a psychological term for it — paraskevidekatriaphobia.

It's not clear how this date became associated with bad luck, but it is believed that the "misfortune" associated with the number 13 dates back to the Middle Ages and Biblical times.

It certainly doesn't help matters that a string of questionable events has taken place on the day.

  • A number of plane crashes – with the spookiest occurring in October 1972, when an aircraft carrying a South American colleage rugby team crashed into the Andes. The 16 survivors were forced to eat the bodies of the dead victims to remain alive until they were rescued.

  • A tropical cyclone that struck Bangladesh and India on Friday November 13 1970 claimed the lives of up to 500,000 people.

  • Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia capsized after striking an underwater rock off Isola del Giglio in Tuscany on January 13 2012, resulting in 32 deaths.

  • During World War II, the Nazis dropped five bombs on Buckingham Palace on September 13.

  • On Friday October 13 2006, 36 inches (91cm) of snow fell on upstate New York in the U.S., bringing the entire city to a standstill and causing about R1.4-billion of damage.

  • Iconic rapper, Tupac Shakur died on September 13 1996 after sustaining gunshot injuries a few days earlier.

  • Pope John Paul II blessed followers a few seconds before being shot and seriously wounded on May 13 1981.

  • On August 13 2010, a 13-year-old boy was struck by lightning in Suffolk, England, at 1.13pm.

Some hotels and hospitals reportedly refuse to have a room 13 and some airplanes do not have a row 13. Some tall buildings do not have a 13th floor. Some people won't even travel or make big purchases on this day.

And perhaps there isn't a sure way to bulletproof ourselves against bad luck, but paraskevidekatriaphobics suggest you avoid the following 13 things, particularly this Friday the 13th:

1. Black cats

As tempted as you might be to cuddle a cute black cat, don't let them cross your path. In fact, in some cultures, seeing a black cat is considered to be an omen of doom.

2. Mirrors

Breaking a mirror is known to bring seven years of bad luck. Instead of using a hand mirror, try one that is attached to a wall and just keep your distance.

3. Ladders

Not only is walking under a ladder unsafe, it is also unlucky. However, there are some measures you can take to avoid the bad luck. Spit three times through the ladder's rungs or cross your fingers until you see a dog.

4. Salt

If you spill salt, you're supposed to throw it over your shoulder to avoid bad luck.

5. Umbrellas

Make sure you don't open your umbrella until you are safely outside. Superstition states that not only does it bring bad luck to you, but opening an umbrella indoors will bring bad luck to the entire building.

6. Cutting Your Hair

If you cut your hair on Friday the 13th, legend says someone in your family will die.

7. Funerals

If a funeral procession passes you on Friday the 13th, you will be the next to die.

8. Cemeteries

To avoid bad luck when passing a cemetery, you're suppose to hold your breath until you see a black or brown dog. What if there isn't one around? You may have to hold your breath until you're the next one to move into the cemetery.

9. Birds

Keep your doors and windows tightly shut to stop birds from flying into your home. They are believed to symbolise death if they fly into your house on Friday the 13th.

11. Spiders

Enjoy the spider's company or just let it be. Killing it is extremely unlucky, according to superstition.

12. Room or floor 13

If it has a room 13, or a floor 13, stay away!

13. Number 13

It's a good idea to avoid the number 13 altogether. So, stay away from buildings with a 13th floor and never seat 13 at a dinner table.

And, as always, humour is not lost on some of us on this day: