Fear of Number 13 : Disease or Superstition

Triskaidekaphobia means fear of number 13 (a type of phobia). This word was coined in 1911. Today the number of people suffering from this phobia are so much that manufactures and companies have stopped using the number 13 in their products. Some manufactures have even found some alternate ways to avoid number 13. For example, some manufacturers jump from number 12 to 14 leaving number 13 aside. If you are living is one of such countries where number 13 is considered unlucky then you might not have seen 13th floor in a multistory building. Even the button numbers in lifts don't contain button marked 13. It shows how superstitious people are, even the educated community.

Do you know that number 13 was not used on any racing car in Formula One racing from 1977 to 2013.

How number 13 became an Unlucky Number

Number 13 got the reputation of an unlucky number over a long time. One particular event can't be blamed for that. Here we have collected some facts that might have led to this belief.

  • During 1890s some experts of English Literature relate the number 13 to bad luck due to the famous "Jesus Christ's last supper". In that famous art work, there are total 13 people, Christ and the twelve apostles. Judas, who betrayed Jesus, is the last disciple sitting 13th on the table.
  • Further the term "Triskaidekaphobia" was coined in 1911 which meant fear of number 13.
  • King Philip IV of France arrested Knights Templar (also known as Soldiers of Christ) on Friday 13 October 1307 and tortured them to death. It lead to belief that number 13 is unlucky.
  • It was observed by some monks that if 13 full moons occurred in a year then it lead to some problems faced by monks, hence considered unlucky.
  • Number 13 represented femininity because 13 menstrual cycles occur in a year. 13 x 28 = 364 days.  
  • In Tarot Cards, 13th card represents Death with a picture of pale horse and a rider.
  • There are 12.41 lunar months in a solar year. It means that the 13th lunar month is never complete.

Interesting Facts about Fear of Number 13

  • Napoleon and the former US president Herbert Hoover suffered from Triskaidekaphobia, fear of number 13.
  • Apolo 13, a manned mission to moon, was aborted due to loss of an oxygen tank that exploded mid way.
  • Around $ 800 - 900 million is lost annually in the U.S. as people avoid to fly or do business meetings on 13th of any month.
  • House number 13 are usually hard to sell and often sold at a lower price with a different house number, such as 12A.
  • Many hospitals avoid having a room number 13. Similarly many tall buildings have floor 12A or M (13th Alphabet) instead of naming it as 13th floor.
  • A number of airlines have no row 13 on their planes. Scottish airports use gate 12B instead of gate 13.
  • Number 13 was never used by any player in triathlon. Similarly it was not used on any Formula One car from 1977 to 2013.
Interestingly all these facts and information lead to the conclusion that 13 is unlucky. However some people don't believe it and mark it as just a coincidence. After all just naming a room as 12A or 12B won't change its actual count. Even if nature has got something to do with number 13, then will it use English language or decimal number system to count it.
In some countries 13 is not considered unlucky. Instead 13 is considered lucky.
  • Great Seal of the United States has got 13 stars and there are 13 stripes on the American flag. 
  • In Italy 13 is considered lucky as the expression fare tredici ("to do 13") means "hit the jackpot".

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