Ben Keenan: It’s Friday the 13th but don’t be afraid . . .

Friggatriskadecaphobia is a fear of Fridays and of the number 13.

As today is the first Friday 13th of the year, there will be many people who won’t be reading this article until tomorrow when their anxiety disperses and it’s safer for them to leave the controllable confines of their houses.

Every year, thousands of people struggle to cope on this day and become gripped with a terror so real, that day to day chores like boiling a kettle become insurmountable problems to overcome and are usually ignored altogether.

There is little historical fact written about the world’s most notorious calendar date, so the only documented fact I have discovered is that Friday 13th can only occur if the 1st day of the month is on a Sunday which means that this year we’ll have one in January, April and July. Only having three a year may seem fine to most of us, but try for a moment thinking about the three million people in Britain who struggle with a phobia on a daily basis, the most common of which in Britain are fears of spiders, heights, tunnels, flying and confined spaces.

There are millions more of us who don’t suffer from any specific phobias but will still make an effort to be extra cautious today with many blaming any resulting mishaps on the curse of Friday 13th, a curse that nobody can pinpoint the origins of.

One thing is certain though, today brings with it a plethora of timeless superstitions involving black cats, ladders, the smashing of mirrors, picking up a dropped knife and my personal favourite, the preferred environmental conditions in which to open an umbrella.