Since Biblical times, when Judas was the 13th person to arrive at the Last Supper, the number 13 has been associated with bad luck and with the occult. Judas was the 13th, and he betrayed Jesus with a kiss.
From these biblical origins, mistrust and fear of the number 13 has grown and evolved. “Unlucky” number 13 is still feared today. The depth of the phobia is fascinating and widespread. Known as Triskaidekaphobia, the fear of 13 continues to affect the very construction of society.
If you fear 13, you may be considered superstitious. True phobias can develop as the result of strong superstitions. But fearing the number 13 is so common, it is barely perceived as unusual. It is seemingly normal to mistrust a physical number, whenever it appears: yet mistrust and fear of a simple number is highly illogical.
In society, evidence of this phobia can be found almost anywhere . It can be shocking to contemplate the myriad ways society avoids the use of the number 13.
Here are some examples:
Friday The 13th – The fear of 13 has Christian origins: so does the idea of Friday as an “unlucky” day of the week. Jesus was crucified on Friday. When Friday the 13th comes to pass, people may feel some sense of unease, as though bad luck is gathering. The horror film series, Friday the 13th, takes advantage of these feelings. In these films, a maniacal killer, Jason, seeks revenge though brutal killing sprees, on this “unlucky” day.
The 13th Floor – A Rare Occurence in Any Building – Although any building with 13 floors or more always has a 13th floor, you would hardly know it. Modern construction and architecture resists the obvious, and avoids marking the 13th Floor. Because people feel less safe on the 13th Floor, the illusion that it does not exist is maintained in many hotels, apartment buildings, and even office complexes. 87 percent of Americans surveyed have reported some trepidation about staying on the 13th floor of hotels. For this reason, many developers continue to skip from 12 to 14 when labeling their floor plans for consumers.
Sports- In the world of professional sports, many world-class athletes refuse to wear 13 on their jerseys or helmets. Some athletes, such as basketball great Wilt Chamberlain, scoffed at the superstition, and proudly wore 13 on their jerseys.
The Occult – The occult religions have adopted the number 13 as a symbol of their rebellion against Christian value systems. Witches’ covens were often found to have 12 members, in honor of the occult symbol itself: the thirteenth “member” of the coven was believed to be the Devil.
The Tarot- In a deck of Tarot cards, the Death card is the thirteenth card. The Death card represents great, sweeping transformation, and does not necessarily portend physical death. Nonetheless, it is not considered a “lucky” card by many people, and its placement among the other cards of the Tarot is no accident.
Not every culture embraces fear of the number 13. Triskaidekaphobia is less prevalent in Chinese culture, where the number 13 is considered lucky. The Chinese link “lucky” numbers with their pronunciation of the numbers themselves, and they also consider seven and eight to be lucky.
However, ancient Hebrews also feared and reviled the number thirteen, because, in the Hebrew alphabet, the thirteenth letter is M. M is also the first letter of the Hebrew word, Malvet. Malvet is the Hebrew word for “death”.
In today’s world, science and logic have their place. But old superstitions die hard, as they are tied in to centuries of history and spiritual faith.
Therefore, triskaidekaphobia remains a potent force in modern society.
Although many people no longer subscribe to the dark power of “13″, others still avoid and fear the number, just as their ancestors did.