Triskaidekaphobia: The fear or avoidance of the number 13

Lefty Graves
The number 13.Photo byZhen HuonUnsplash

There are only two Fridays the 13ths in the year 2023. The first is in January, and the second is in October. That being said, have you ever considered why the number 13 is considered unlucky? Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about the number 13.

Triskaidekaphobia, or the fear or avoidance of the number 13, is actually one of the more common fears that people have. Many people have an irrational fear of the number 13, including famous writer Stephen king. If you extend your fear to that of Friday the 13th, then you have paraskevidekatriaphobia.

For people who fear the number 13, it’s not at all uncommon for them to avoid anything that has to do with the number 13. This may include avoiding hotel rooms with the number 13 in them, the 13th floor of any facility, the 13th row in a theater or airplane, or even working on the 13th of any given month.

Those with an even more deeply rooted form of triskaidekaphobia may also skip television channels with a 13 in them, the 13th page of their book, and any other thing with the number 13 in it (grocery store aisles or shopping aisles in other stores). As Stephen King so succinctly put it, ‘it’s safer.’

Many buildings have floors that go from One through 12, and then skip the number 13 and go right to 14 after the number 12. It’s not at all unusual to see this in many high rises. It’s challenging at best to determine just how many of the population are afraid of the number 13. Many airlines avoid row 13 and go right to 14, all in an effort to make people more comfortable and help people to feel safe.

Where does the superstition come from?

It could b as simple as the fact that the number 13 is in juxtaposition with Lucky 12, which many consider to be a perfect complete number.

One theory is Norse Mythology. Per folklore, the number 13 originated in Norse myths about three being 12 gods at a particular dinner party. However, one god, Loki, wasn’t invited and arrived as guest number 13. Since he wasn’t invited, he arranged for Hoor to shoot Balder using a mistletoe-tipped arrow. Balder died, and the entire Earth became dark. The earth mourned, and it was a sad, bad, unlucky day. For this reason, Norse mythology believes that the number 13 is bad luck.

Another theory is the Judas theory. Judas, who betrayed Jesus at the Last Supper, was the 13th person to sit down to the supper that night with Jesus.

We can’t forget the Knights Templar, which shut down on that fateful Friday, the 13th of October, 1307. Once one of the most influential rich groups in the Middle Ages, they established a system of castles, banks, and churches throughout Western Europe. Surprisingly, this is what led to their downfall.

Regardless of which of the theories is accurate, it doesn’t change the fact that many people have a fear of the number 13. How do you feel about the number 13? Are you afraid of the number 13? Do you hate Friday the 13th?


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Lefty has been writing online since 2000 on various topics, including youth mentoring, addiction recovery, parenting, gardening, advocating for seniors, sustainability, farming, and an eclectic mix of other topics. She resides on a farm with her family in Northeastern Washington state.

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