Henry Ford would have hated 2009, and not just because it's been a tough year to sell cars. Ford, as the story goes, refused to do business on Friday the 13th, and this week marks the third time this year that the 13th will fall on a Friday — the most times it can happen in one year. In 2009 this applies to the months of February, March, and November. The next year to have three Friday the 13th dates will be 2015.
Fears surrounding the number 13 are as ancient as the act of counting. Primitive man had only his 10 fingers and two feet to represent units, this explanation goes, so he could count no higher than 12. What lay beyond that — 13 — was an impenetrable mystery to our prehistoric forebears, hence an object of superstition. In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in 12 months of the year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 hours of the clock, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 Apostles of Jesus, 12 gods of Olympus, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper that having 13 people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.
Friday's bad reputation goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit, ejecting them from Paradise. Tradition also holds that the Great Flood began on a Friday; God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday; and, of course, Friday was the day of the week on which Christ was crucified. It is therefore a day of penance for Christians.
But don't spend the day in the grips of paraskevidekatriaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th): If Wall Street is any indication, Friday the 13th may actually be a lucky day. The stock market, it turns out, tends to do better on Friday the 13th, rising by an average of .04 percent on each of the past 185 Friday the 13ths, according to the Bespoke Investment Group.