Don’t fear the 13th!

JasonYeah, yeah we are all superstitious to some bit of another. Not walking under ladders, tossing salt over our shoulder, Black Cats crossing our paths, breaking mirrors, And of course, Friday the 13th. Well, apparently fear of the #13 is something of a real phobia (probably started by right around the time of the Last Supper when the 13th guy at a dinner party got nailed to a tree); it is actually called paraskavedekatriaphobia as well as friggatriskaidekaphobia. Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13.

Anyway, not only is this the third Friday the 13th we’ve had this year, (something that happens only every 11 years) there are quite a few interesting things about the #13. Some of them are as follows:

  • Many hospitals have no room 13, while some tall buildings skip the 13th floor and some airline terminals omit Gate 13.
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.
  • Mark Twain once was the 13th guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. “It was bad luck,” Twain later told the friend. “They only had food for 12.” Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest.
  • The number 13 suffers from its position after 12, according to numerologists who consider the latter to be a complete number — 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus, 12 days of Christmas and 12 eggs in a dozen.

Meanwhile the belief that numbers are connected to life and physical things (which is called numerology) has a long history.

“You can trace it all the way from the followers of Pythagoras, whose maxim to describe the universe was ‘all is number,’” says Mario Livio, an astrophysicist and author of The Equation That Couldn’t Be Solved (Simon & Schuster, 2005). Thinkers who studied under the famous Greek mathematician combined numbers in different ways to explain everything around them, Livio said.

If you want to learn more about the superstitions surrounding this particular date (or just the number 13 itself) you can go here.

Meanwhile, I’m staying indoors, drinking heavy, and, you know, keeping my guns close by.

The Perfessor

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The Perfessor

Writer with Attitude, and things to say!