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Unlucky 13: Why Is 13 an Unlucky Number

13 January 2013. Number 13 is for many considered to be an unlucky number, especially Friday 13th is the phenomenon, why some superstitious people fear to get up from their beds. There is even a scientific term for this kind of phobia – Triskaidekaphobia. Where does the fear or believed bad luck come from?

The theoretical answer can be found in history and religion. Jesus Christ was supposed to be crucified on Friday. Moreover there were 13 attendants at the Last Supper—as captured by the famous fresco by Leonardo da Vinci—and the 13th attendant was believed to be Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus Christ.

Another Scandinavian story says that there were 12 Gods invited for a dinner in Vanhalla. However Loki, the God of Evil (the 13th participant), was not invited so he stabbed through Balder, the God of Joy and Pleasure, by a spear.

On Friday 13th October 1307 an extensive arresting and persecution of the Templar Knights began, after the French king Phillip IV. the Fair, had liaised with the Church. He was jealous about the Templar Order's power and possessions. So he accused them of heresy, sodomia and sorcery and confiscated their enormous property.

Inspired by the stories above, some hosts take special care to avoid 13 guests sitting at the table, which is, of course, considered to bring bad luck. However some hoteliers and builders go even further: there is no room number 13, no 13th floor etc to name a few extremes.

There two Fridays 13th this year: 13 September 2013 and 13 December 2013. Based on a simple logic we can say that Friday 13th appears in each month, whose first day is Sunday. See for yourself and take a look into a calendar.

The over fear of Friday 13th (or any other superstition in general) can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies, when a person heads for a disaster subconsciously. Or it may lead to a exaggeration of little things (attributed to this date), which would normally be gone unnoticed.

The 13 theme appears in the movies as well, e.g. the well-known horror movie Friday 13th. There is a funny Czech comedy Vrať se do hrobu ("Go back to the grave" in English—a strange title, isn't it?), whereas a sly student prepares a little trick for a graduation oral exam. He draws himself a (or any) question from a bag, then throws it back saying: "Number 13, I don't want it", whereupon the commission replies: "Just keep it." That is what he counted on and of course he was well prepared...

As laughter is the spice of life, there is a joke: There are two friends having chat, while one of them asks the other guy: "Do you know that this year's last day is Friday?" And the guy replies: "Hopefully it won't be Friday 13th."

The original Czech article: Nešťastná 13.

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