Today could be one of the unluckiest days of 2012, if you happen to be superstitious.
Friday 13th occurs between one to three times each year – and this year there will be three of them.
It is a day that fills any superstitious person with dread, but is Friday 13th really something to be feared?
Emily Gamble, 20, of Rushden, doesn’t think so. She said: “I was born on Friday 13th. I wouldn’t say I’m unlucky and nothing bad has ever happened on Friday 13th.
“Fingers crossed it won’t be unlucky this time as I have a driving lesson!”
But Sean McGilway, 35, of Corby, isn’t so sure. He said: “All my court fines caught up with me on Friday 13th a couple of years ago. The police came out, arrested me and took me straight to Woodhill Prison. Not good!”
So why is Friday 13th said to be so unlucky?
The number 13 has long been assocated with all things unlucky as far back as Viking times and there are all kinds of urban legends linked with it.
The most commonly-held belief is to do with the Last Supper where there were 13 people eating around the table.
The number 12 is considered a number of completeness owing to there being 12 months of the year and 12 hours on a clock, which led people to believe that the number 13 was irregular and unlucky.
Legend also has it that if 13 people sit down to dinner together, one will die within the year.
Whether this is true or not, many hospitals have no room 13, while airports don’t have a Gate 13.
About a quarter of British streets don’t have a number 13 house and many tall buildings do not have a floor 13.
One study suggested that owners of number 13 properties will often end up having to sell their houses for £4,000 less than neighbouring properties.
Friday 13th is considered to be particularly unlucky because Friday is thought to be the unluckiest day of the week, largely due to the fact it was the day that Jesus was crucified.
Ships that set sail on a Friday will have bad luck, according to one legend, shown in the tale of HMS Friday.
The story goes that 100 years ago, the British government set out to dispell the longstanding superstition among seamen that setting sail on a Friday was unlucky.
A special ship was commissioned and given the name HMS Friday. They laid her keel on a Friday, launched her on a Friday, selected her crew on a Friday and hired a man named Jim Friday to be her captain. She even embarked on her maiden voyage on a Friday – and was never seen or heard from again.
However, the Royal Navy has recently said this story is a myth.
But should we really put any stock in such superstitions or are they something to be laughed off?
Psychologist Dr Richard Wiseman has carried out a study on superstitions, including the belief that Friday 13th is unlucky.
He found that 77 per cent of people are at least a little bit supestitious and carried out some form of superstitious behaviour, suck as touching wood.
Interestingly, a quarter of people who took part in the survey who said they had a background in science admitted that they were superstitious.
Women were found to be significantly more superstitious than men and it appears people become less superstitious as they get older – 59 per cent of 11 to 15-year-olds described themselves as superstitious compared with just 35 per cent of over 50s.
Dr Wiseman said: “These findings do not suggest that superstitious behaviour and beliefs will be consigned to the past. Indeed, they are strongly held by the younger members of society.”
When asked about their personal superstitions, people had some unusual behaviours.
One person said they never have the volume on their car stereo set to 13, while another admitted always leaving a house by the same door they use to enter.