A Significant Number
For various reasons 13 is considered a number carrying a special significance in many cultures.
The stall numbers at the Santa Anita Park show that 13 is considered an unlucky number in horse racing.
Thirteen is regarded as an unlucky number in many cultures. Unreasoned fear of the number 13 is termed triskaidekaphobia. The thirteenth of a month is likewise ominous, particularly when it falls on a Friday in some
English-speaking cultures (see Friday the 13th), a Tuesday in the Greek and Spanish-speaking world, or a Monday in Russia.
Thirteen may be considered a "bad" number simply because it is one more than 12, which is a popularly used number in many cultures (possibly due to it being a highly composite number). When a group of 13 objects or persons is divided into two, three, four or six equal groups,
there is always one leftover, "unlucky" object or person.
It was suggested by Charles Platt writing in 1925 that the reason 13 is considered unlucky is
that man can count from 1-12 with his 10 fingers and 2 feet, but not beyond that, so the number 13 is unknown, hence frightening,
hence unlucky. This idea discounts the use of toes or other body parts in counting.
Some Christian traditions have it that at the Last Supper, Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table.
According to another interpretation, the number 13 is unlucky because it is the number of full
moons in a year. Actually two full moons in a single calendar month (referred to as a Blue Moon) only happens about every 2.5 years, so to say there are 13 full moons in a year is false. On
average, there will be 41 months that have two full moons in a century, so a Blue Moon actually occurs about once every two-and-a-half
years, and is in no way related to the number 13. Women living in a natural environment tend to have their menses during a full moon. A twenty-eight day menstruation cycle is most typical, so a woman usually has 13 menses in a year. Supposedly, in the
past, a woman who menstruated during a full moon might be thought a witch.
Early nursery rhymes stated there were thirteen months in a year because of the natural moon cycle that was used to
count the lunar year. In England, a calendar of thirteen months of 28 days each, plus one extra day, known as "a year and a day"
was still in use up to Tudor times. The lunar year was the easiest to count for cultures before scientific methods existed
to observe the movement of the earth around the sun, so it was associated with worship of the pagan Great Goddess for thousands of years, which may be another reason for 13 becoming a taboo number. Taboo often is misunderstood when only half of the totem and taboo relationship is recognized. Among religions having totem and taboo characteristics,
that which is taboo on a regular basis, may become quite sacred on special occasions.
In Tarot decks, the #13th card of the Major Arcana is Death. While Death is rarely interpreted literally, it is possible that this furthered the perception
of 13 as an unlucky number.
The legion with which Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with was the Legio XIII Gemina or the 13th legion.
In Scotland, there is no terminal 13 in any airport, instead there is a terminal 12B.
Some tall buildings have resorted to skipping the "thirteenth floor", either by numbering it "14" or as "12a".
Some streets do not contain a house number 13.
The Code of Hammurabi, a collection of laws created ca. 1760 BC, does not contain a thirteenth law.
On the 13th day of the Persian new year (Norouz), people consider staying at home unlucky, and go outside for a picnic in order to ward off the
Most race car drivers consider 13 a very unlucky number, as a car carrying that number has never
won the Indianapolis 500 or a NASCAR Nextel Cup race, and almost all Formula 1 teams are no longer given the number 13 when car numbers are given out to teams on basis of points.
Usually the team finishing seventh in the previous year's championship will take numbers 14 and 15, instead of 13 and 14.
Only once in recent years (1991, Ricky Johnson) has an AMA Motocross rider chosen #13 instead of #14. Some NASCAR tracks refuse
to have a pit stall #13.
On the Universal Studios sound stages in California, there isn't a sound stage numbered 13.
The creators of the online game entitled "The Kingdom Of Loathing" avoid the number 13 in all
of their programming.
In Sikhism, the number 13 is considered a special number since 13 is tera in Punjabi, which also means "yours" (as in, "I am yours, O Lord"). The legend goes that when Guru Nanak Dev was taking stock of items as part of his employment with a village merchant, he counted from 1
to 13 (in Punjabi) as one does normally; and thereafter he would just repeat "tera", since all items were God's creation.
The merchant confronted Guru Nanak about this, but found everything to be in order after the inventory was checked.
Several successful athletes have worn the number 13. Alex Rodriguez is said to be one of the most talented baseball player ever, and he has also signed the biggest
sports contract wears the number 13. Dan Marino, an American football player known for passing more yards than any other quarterback in NFL history, wore the number 13. Another athlete Wilt Chamberlain wore the number 13 on his jersey throughout his NBA career. Also, FIBA rules require a player to wear the number in international competitions (only numbers from 4 to
15 could be worn, and as there are 12 players, one must wear 13); Chris Mullin, who wore #20 in college and #17 in the NBA, wore #13 for both (1984 and 1992) of his Olympic
appearances. Shaquille O'Neal wore #13 in 1996, Tim Duncan wore #13 in 2004, Steve Nash is currently wearing it for the Phoenix Suns, and Mats Sundin wears 13 in the NHL.
In Judaism, 13 is considered a lucky number. One explanation for this is that the word אחד
echad, Hebrew for 'one' and thus a way of describing the unique God, has the numerological value of 13 according to
the Gematria system.
- The number of circles, or "nodes", that make up Metatron's Cube.
- The number of Norse gods (there were 12) at a banquet that was crashed by the evil spirit Loki (making 13) who killed one of the guests with a poison arrow.
- The number of steps, according to Egyptian lore, between life and death.