The number 13 is often considered to be a very unlucky number. If you ask a person why often times you’ll get a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders. It just is, and that’s the way with superstitions. People aren’t always sure how they get started, but superstitions about what’s lucky or unlucky can cling for generations upon generations with new theories and stories getting added with each new telling. However there are some theories about why people develop a dislike of 13.
First of all, 13 is a prime number. Prime numbers tend to get a lot of attention, such as the power of 3 or lucky number 7. 13 is also one more than someone can count if you consider 10 fingers and 2 feet. 13 is one more than a traditional dozen, which many consider to be a perfect number. 13 is also one more than you can roll on a pair of dice. These are all just little factoids, but they might give some inside into the idea that 13 is a strange number that’s just outside the norm in many situations, which could lead to a cultural aversion to the number. However, such was not always the case.
According to lunar calendars there are actually 13 months in the year and not 12. The switch over from a lunar calendar, which was considered female and feminine, to a solar calendar, which was considered more masculine could also be one reason for the vilification of the number 13. This is one oft-quoted reason for 13 being unlucky; men who were moving from a more female dominated society (and sometimes a more pagan society some will say) attempted to claim that the “perfect” 13 of the past was now an unlucky number.
If you want to step out of the theoretical and into more documented reasons there are a lot of religious stories and tales that might operate as the basis for 13 being considered unlucky. One well known tale is that Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, was the 13th member at the Last Supper. A similar story was told by the Vikings where the 13th guest at a banquet was the Trickster god Loki, who out of spite tricked the blind god Hod into slaying his brother Baldur the god of goodness and light. Because of these tales the number 13 was considered especially unlucky for gatherings of people in at least two separate cultures.
Friday the 13th is actually the combination of two fortunate or unfortunate things depending on your view. Friday is supposedly the day that god made the world, and it’s considered to be the holiest day by Muslims. However Friday is also supposed to be the day that Adam and Eve were cast out, they day that they died and the day that Jesus died. Once more in the north it was the day of Freya, the goddess of love, beauty and battle which eventually became the word Friday. It was considered the best day of the week in the north, which might make Friday the 13th a wash for any sensible Viking.
“Why is Friday the 13th Considered Unlucky?” by Anonymous at Cool Quiz
“Why is 13 an Unlucky Number?” by Anonymous at Big Site of Amazing Facts
“Why Friday the 13th is Unlucky,” by David Emery at About