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The stall numbers at the Santa Anita Park. Note that the numbers progress from "12" to "12A" to "14".

Triskaidekaphobia (from greek tris=three, kai=and, deka=ten) is a fear of the number 13. It is usually considered to be a superstition. A specific fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia.

Origins[edit | edit source]

Some Christian traditions have it that at the Last Supper Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table, and that for this reason 13 is considered to carry a curse of sorts.

Fear of 13 has also been linked to that fact that a lunisolar calendar must have 13 months in some years, while the solar Gregorian calendar and lunar Islamic calendar always have 12 months in a year.

Triskaidekaphobia may have also affected the Vikings — it is believed that Loki in the Norse pantheon was the 13th god. More specifically, Loki was believed to have engineered the murder of Baldr, and was the 13th guest to arrive at the funeral. This is perhaps related to the superstition that if thirteen people gather, one of them will die in the following year. This was later Christianized in some traditions into saying that Satan was the 13th angel.

The Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi (ca. 1760 BC) omits 13 in its numbered list.[How to reference and link to summary or text] This seems to indicate a superstition existed long before the Christian era.

See also Friday the 13th for information concerning the traditions and superstitions surrounding this supposedly unlucky day.

Examples[edit | edit source]

An elevator without a 13th-floor button.

  • The arrest and murder of the Knights Templar occurred on Friday October 13 1307. This event is said to be the origin of the supposed unluckiness of Friday the 13th.
  • Microsoft will not be naming its next Office release as Office 13 (Microsoft shipped Office 12 (a.k.a Microsoft Office 2007) in November 2006) - the working title for the next release of Office (which includes Microsoft Exchange Server) is called Microsoft Office 14.
  • In Formula One, no car carries the number 13.[1]

Similar phobias[edit | edit source]

An elevator in a residential apartment building in Shanghai - floor numbers 4, 13 and 14 are missing.

Tetraphobia, fear of the number 4 — in Korea, China, and Japan, it is not uncommon for buildings (including offices, apartments, hotels, hospitals, etc.) to have no 4th floor, and sometimes no floor having the digit 4 (14, 41, etc.) at all. Similarly-numbered rooms are also often omitted in any given floors in buildings. The Rio Suites Hotel in Las Vegas has 41 floors, but no 40th or 41st floor. The top two floors are numbered 50 and 51. Here it is only when 4 would be the first digit of a two-digit floor number that it is skipped, while they did not skip the 4th, 14th, 24th, or 34th floors. It is common to find no block number ending in 4 in residential complexes. The Chinese pronunciation for the words "die" and "four" are similar, save for the tone: "Die" and "four," in Mandarin Chinese, are si3 and si4, respectively, and a similar situation occurs in Cantonese. In extension, the Japanese pronunciation (shi, for both 'death' and 'four' with no tone differences) and Korean pronunciation of these two words derived from Chinese, causing the three cultures to share the same fear for the number four. Interestingly, "3" is often considered a lucky number in these cultures since the word "three," pronounced "san," is similar to the pronunciation of the word "live" or "survive" in Chinese and Korean. Thus sometimes the block number "3A" would be in place where the block "4" should be in some residential complexes.

In Italian culture, the number 17 is considered unlucky. When viewed as the Roman numeral, XVII, it can be re-arranged as VIXI, which in Latin means "I have lived", the perfect tense, implying "My life is over." (c.f. "Vixerunt", Cicero's famous announcement of an execution.) In Italy, it is not uncommon to notice that buildings do not have a 17th floor, or hotels do not have a room 17. The Italian airline carrier Alitalia does not have a row 17 on its aircraft, and neither does German carrier Germanwings, which flies to many Italian destinations. Renault sold its "R17" model in Italy as "R177."

Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th, which is considered to be a day of bad luck in English, German, Polish and Portuguese-speaking cultures

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. AtlasF1 -> FAQ. Retrieved 1 May, 2007.
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