Number 13 is a natural number that follows after Twelve and proceeding number fourteen. As per the English language source, it relates as “unlucky number.” However, the number is widely categorized as a member of the group of evil numbers as well. A large portion of the population all around the world choose to shed a negative light on number Thirteen.
Have you ever used the word ‘ Triskaidekaphobia’? Did you hear or read the word for the first time just now? The majority of us did, including me. Interestingly, most of us suffer from this phobia without even realizing it. It was a word coined a hundred and eight years back in 1911 to denote the irrational hatred or the fear of number 13. You read it right. The panic regarding this number has been so widespread over the century that there is an actual phobia name based on it. Even more than facts or observations, the superstitions that have been passed on through myths and generations after generations have contributed immensely in the spread of this phobia. The term comes from the Greek language, where Tri means three, kai means and, Deka says ten and phobia as we all know, refers to fear.
Given below are some of the superstitions regarding number 13 that are most widespread globally-
10. A CURSED NAME
A popular superstition says that if you have Thirteen alphabets in your name, the chances are high that you might be just cursed. As examples, people choose to believe in this superstition citing examples of names such as
2.Jack the Ripper
4. In case Hitler’s name pops up in your mind, his name is Adolfus Hitler which again makes the number of alphabets thirteen in the title.
As we notice, all of the above names have 13 letters in the titles and well are infamous for their destructive nature and are seen and talked about in negative terms. Interesting. Isn’t it?
According to the Scandinavian mythology as well as in The Kabbalah, the school of thought in Judaism, the number of existing evil spirits listed is Thirteen which again links the evil. The connection of sin and Thirteen can also mention in the Bible’s book of Apocalypse, also known as the Book of Revelation, the final book in the New Testament of the Bible.
8. REBELLION AGAINST GOD
It is widely said that a Sixteenth-century numerologist recorded that the Jews murmured Thirteen times against the Almighty in the Exodus from Egypt, the journey which continued for forty years. Since it was against the conventional ecclesiastical authority, Thirteen is therefore also looked down upon as a number included in the rebellion against God himself, thus adding to its notoriety.
7. TO DEATH
According to popular English lore, it is believed that there are thirteen steps to the Gallows- Twelve up and one down. If we look closely at the old photos of public hangings and execution, we could count the number of steps to the platform as thirteen. Technically it is believed that this allows a reasonable drop distance and a neatly broken neck and easy body removal, which usually hangs close to the floor. Well, the place which is known to strip an individual of life has never been seen in a positive or lucky perspective. Neither has been the number of steps leading to it. Example, If we talk of gallows, a hangman’s noose has Thirteen knots too.
6. GREEK LORE
According to a widely spread Greek lore, Tuesday, especially the Thirteenth is considered to be a very unlucky day. It must be noted that Tuesday is regarded to be dominated by the influence of Ares, who is worshipped as the God of war in Greek mythology, known as Mars in Roman mythology. It adds another dimension and that too a violent one to the phobia that is widespread against the number Thirteen.
5. SPANISH SUPERSTITION
In many Spanish speaking communities, Tuesday the 13th that is commonly called ‘Martes Trece’ is a dreaded date and is considered a day of bad luck. The fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade took place on a Tuesday. The Fall of Constantinople too, to the Ottomans, occurred on a Tuesday, the date is 29 May 1453. These incidents strengthen this superstition about Tuesday.
4. ZOROASTRIAN MYTH
In the religion of Zoroastrianism which is often seen as one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world, the number thirteen was conventionally considered to be a ‘sinister’ number. The religion divides history in four chunks of three thousand years each. According to one popular belief, it is believed that the thirteen thousandth year will bring chaos to the world. However, recent scholars of the religion tend to emphasize that thirteen is not an ominous number in the faith anymore pointing that in the Zoroastrian calendar the Thirteenth day of each month is named after Týshter, the brightest star whose appearance in the sky is associated with rain harvest and goodwill.
3. PERSIAN SUPERSTITION
In Persian communities too, thirteen is seen as a wicked number. The Thirteenth day of each new Iranian year is called Sizdah Be-dar, a day when evil powers are believed to create difficulties. Sizdah Be-dar, also called Nature’s Day, is a festival held once a year on the thirteenth day of Farvardin. It marks the end of the Nowruz holidays in Iran. To avoid difficult circumstances or hurdles, people leave the urban areas on this one day and live in a camp or just a picnic in the countryside.
2. IN CHRISTIANITY
The superstition related to thirteen is most prominently witnessed in Christianity. It may have arisen primarily in the Middle Ages because there were thirteen individuals present in the picture before the night Jesus died. It is believed that Jesus Christ had not twelve apostles but slightly thirteen, the thirteenth disciple being Judas who later betrayed Christ for thirty pieces of Silver. Thirteen, therefore, is seen as a number which signifies betrayal and bad luck. It is the Christian superstition that has spread the most around the globe.
1. ANCIENT BELIEFS
The superstitions surrounding the number Thirteen dates back to even the Mayan civilization that existed millenniums ago. The end of Mayan calendar’s, i.e. the thirteenth Baktun was feared as a harbinger of the apocalypse that was believed to happen in 2012. Even though the feared destruction did not take place, the fear regarding the number remains intact.
It is also interesting to note that there are generally thirteen full moons in a year and it was believed that women who lived in nature and menstruated during full moons were witches. The number thirteen is even more intrinsically linked with the supernatural in general and the witchcraft cult in particular through the belief that witches used to gather in covens of twelve and during such times, the Devil would be present with them as the thirteenth attendee.
Many hotels choose to skip the floor or room number Thirteen to avoid any mishaps or notoriety. A large portion of the population around the world tends to avoid buying or selling of estates that include the number thirteen in transactions. People avoid having exactly thirteen guests for parties and also avoid celebrations on the dreaded date. There was also a series created in the 1980s named ‘Friday the 13th’ which dramatized the tragic story of Jason Voorhees.
The superstitions that started with the middle ages have continued to spread in their original forms if not in accentuated forms in all cultures across the globe. While the majority of the superstitions are negative, there are very few supposed opinions positive too like that in Zoroastrianism. With all the common superstitions that create toxic air around the number thirteen, the only positive thing about the name seems to be a baker’s dozen. A sweet extra!