It’s traditionally viewed as the unluckiest day of the year, and this Friday the 13th is shaping up to be one of the worst.
The sinister date falls right as the world seems on the brink of unravelling, as the coronavirus pandemic spreads further across the globe.
Research suggests approximately 49million Brits are superstitious about Friday the 13th, with one-in-six saying they believe bad luck is more likely to strike today than on any other.
Some 31% of people say they wouldn’t get married on Friday the 13th, while 17% avoid travelling if they can.
People are less likely to leave their homes or attend events on this day for fear of tempting fate, which is likely a good thing at the moment.
Crowded shops and trains form a dangerous breeding ground for the virus, and medical professionals have advised people to stay home and self-isolate if possible.
Those who do brave the outside world could find themselves struck down with more bad luck if they pop into the supermarket for coronavirus supplies, as fully fledged fights between shoppers desperate for the last bottle of hand sanitiser have been witnessed and posted online.
The date typically sees commemorative public gatherings taking place around the world, like the Friday the 13th Motorcycle Rally held in Port Dover, Ontario.
Organisers say this month’s event will be scaled down, but not because of coronavirus – instead due to the forecast wet weather.
Superstition around Friday the 13th stretches back to pre-Christianity, with historians tracing the belief to the Last Supper.
The fateful meal was attended by 13 people including Jesus Christ, and took place the night before his crucifixion on Good Friday.
Judas Iscariot, Christ’s betrayer, was the 13th guest at the Last Supper and the number has come to be regarded with suspicion.
The first documented case of the date’s serious bad luck came when King Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar on Friday 13 October 1307.
After being tortured into confessing various crimes, the Christian crusaders were burned at the stake in Paris.
The group’s leader is said to have faced the fire and cursed: “God knows who is wrong and has sinned. Soon a calamity will occur to those who have condemned us to death.”
His words seemed to ring true, as a number of unfortunate events have taken place on Friday the 13th ever since.
Notable modern examples include the Blitz bombing of Buckingham Palace in 1940, the stock market crash of 1989, and Tupac Shakur’s death in 1996.
Some people believe in taking certain precautions to avoid bad luck today, such as getting out of bed on the right side, avoiding black cats and carrying a rabbit’s foot for protection.
With coronavirus escalating into a world-wide health crisis, it could be a good opportunity to revisit another superstition – blessing people after they sneeze.