Thursday 13 October 2016

The Number 13: Day 4 of #OctoberFrights

Welcome to Day 4 of the October Frights Blog Hop!

Today is the 13th of October. It is also #FolkloreThursday over on Twitter, so it seemed a perfect time for a post on the myth and folklore of the number thirteen.

We all know the superstition, the ominous unlucky number thirteen, scourge of digits and integers, and striking trepidation in many. And of course, should the dreaded date of the 13th fall (gasp!) on a Friday, well...

This belief in the unlucky quality of thirteen is quite pervasive from the aforementioned Friday the 13th to high rise buildings actually lacking a thirteenth floor. So what are the origins of this belief? How did thirteen come to symbolize bad luck? What heinous crime did it perpetrate to be labelled Bad Luck King of the number world?

Nobody’s quite certain.

One of the most popular theories as to its ill-fated origins is the Christian one regarding Judas Iscariot being the 13th member to arrive at the Last Supper. While this idea may have spread the fateful notion of a bad luck thirteen, it was probably not its origin. However, the superstition of 13 being an unlucky number at a dinner party has some validity, and goes back to Norse mythology. In some versions of the story of the Death of Baldr, the trickster god Loki is the thirteenth (and uninvited) guest at a celebration feast. It is at this celebration Loki tricks the god Höðr into killing Baldr with mistletoe. So one could see how thirteen guests might now seem unlucky at a dinner party, and perhaps spill over into other areas.
But this idea of “bad luck thirteen” doesn’t translate well past Western culture. 
Ancient Egyptians and Aztecs considered the number fortuitous, and in some Asian culture, the number four is the unlucky one. Perhaps it is simply a matter of poor thirteen being in the wrong place and the wrong time, and labelled bad for eternity.

Some Tidbits:
  • In folklore tradition, thirteen turns make a traditional hangman's noose (In actual practice not so much)
  • Some airplanes have no 13th row and some airports skip the 13th gate
  • Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue
  • Friday the 13th can only occur in months starting with Sunday
  • The actual fear of the number thirteen is called triskaidekaphobia
  • Triskaidekaphilia is the love of the number 13
  • Thirteen at Dinner is a US title of an Agatha Christie mystery novel

Further reading:

And now for the Giveaways!

You can check out my Halloween Horror Haiku Giveaway! (live until October 31st) by clicking on the Giveaway Tab at the top of the blog or this link: Halloween Horror Haiku Giveaway!

And here's my October Frights Book Giveaway!

And now you can continue on your journey, and check out the rest of the Blog Hop and the delights these wonderful people have in store.


Debbie Christiana said...

Love this post because I was born on Friday the 13th and have been fascinated with the legend behind the fear. Jacques de Molay and the Knights Templar were executed on Friday Oct 13th 1307 - more fuel to the fire :) I'm one of the people who like the date :)

Clarissa Johal, Author said...

My daughter was born on the 13th, so it's always been good luck for me! Great post! :)

katie M John said...

Some very cool facts here - I love the number 13 :)

A. F. Stewart said...

Thanks, Debbie, Clarissa, and Katie. My mother was born on the 13th, and I've always liked the number myself.

Susanne Matthews said...

I've always considered 13 to be lucky. I signed my first book contract of February 13, 2013.

A. F. Stewart said...

That is lucky, Susanne.

Winnie Jean Howard said...

Loved these. Dark and witty!

A. F. Stewart said...

Thanks, Wendy.

Unknown said...

Cool article on number 13. I have a character in my latest novel that is obsessed with numbers and actually makes decisions based on them. I've also heard of elevators not having a 13th floor in some buildings ;)

A. F. Stewart said...

Thanks, Scott. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

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