It's the 3rd ‘unlucky’ Friday of 2012

COLUMBIA (WIS) – Today marks the third, Friday the 13th of 2012 and that many 'unlucky' days occur only every few years.

But where does the fear behind the Friday the 13th come from?

"I just always remember being younger and in elementary school and they always said it was bad luck ," says Sable Burgess a Columbia resident. Her friend Catherine Kopiec agrees, "I guess generally people think bad things happen on that day."

As it turns out, those thoughts may have some historical roots. Dr. April Hames, a therapist at the Columbia Counseling Center has studied phobias and says this one goes way back.

"In ancient Rome, Friday was execution day and it was juxtaposed to Sunday which was a more religious day," said Dr. Hames. "There's also lots of bad things that have happened on Friday. The crucifixion happened on Friday, supposedly the tower of Babel happened on Friday in Biblical times, [and] the great flood started on a Friday."

Dr. Hames says it seems the theme of bad things happening on Friday continued throughout time which could explain why the day has a bad reputation. So what about the number 13?

"The earliest reports is in Hindu culture in India," said Dr. Hames. "[Legend had it that] if 13 people gathered for dinner within the year, one person would die."

Hames says some believe that was perpetuated in Biblical times by the Last Supper when Jesus died after dining with the Twelve Disciples.

"In that, it didn't take a year, Jesus died the next day and that day happened to be a Friday," added Dr. Hames.

It seems as time passed a separate fear of the number and the day led to a phobia when the two were paired up. The fear of Friday the 13th is called 'Paraskeveydekatriaphobia.'

"It's actually understood that if you learn to pronounce Paraskeveydekatriaphobia, that you can overcome your fear of Friday the 13th," said Hames.

It's a fear that has led some people to skip building a 13th floor, manufacturing a 13th row in planes and even skipping 13th street in the layout of a town.

But other than learning to say "Para-skevy-deka-tria-phobia," Dr. Hames says there's one key thing she tells people who suffer from many types of phobias. "I always tell client's with thoughts and behaviors like this to challenge their automatic thoughts and say, 'Hmm has this happened to me on any other day that wasn't Friday?' That starts to change your feelings and that should change your behavior."

Some people we spoke with say they don't need a change and see Friday the 13th just like any other day.

"As a Christian I don't think there's any unlucky day," said Jason Gillespiee of Columbia. "I think every day is a gift from God."

Others like Catherine Kopiec say they're not necessarily afraid, but aren't ruling anything out. "I don't know, I think it's just been the superstition for so long and I don't know, maybe it's gotten to me, too."

Dr. Hames suggests on this Friday the 13th those with a fear or a phobia should remember to 'think good thoughts, wear bright colors and NOT think about the fact that the past three Friday the 13th's this year have all happened thirteen weeks apart.'