nb_cid nb_clickOther -tt-nb this.style.behavior='url(#default#homepage)';this.setHomePage('http://www.aol.com/?mtmhp=acm50ieupgradebanner_112313 network-banner-empty upgradeBanner
Search AOL Mail
AOL Mail
AOL Favorites

A look at the power of the number 13 in the world

PARIS (AP) - It's unlucky to stay inside on the 13th day of the Iranian New Year, but fear surrounding the number 13 has chilled people for centuries around the world. The fear of the number even has its own psychological term coined in 1910: "Triskaidekaphobia."

From Friday the 13th, the Apollo 13 mission and even Judas' 13th seat at The Last Supper, here's a look at the power of the number 13 in history and popular culture:


The Last Supper's unlucky 13th seat:

In Western lore, experts believe the fear over 13 started in the Bible.

Some believe that at the Last Supper, Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table - though the Christian text does not specify an order in which they gathered.

"It was first thought to be unlucky to seat 13 at a table because of the Bible story but after it developed that 13 was unlucky for anything," says Stuart Vyse, the author of "Believing in Magic: the Psychology of Superstition."

Vyse says that fears were consolidated in Norse mythology in the late 8th to the mid-11th centuries.

The evil Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston in Marvel's "Thor" movies, was according to Viking myth the 13th god in their pantheon. Also, death is the 13th card in a tarot deck.


Is it Friday or Tuesday the 13th?

The myth of the cursed Friday the 13th as immortalized in the cult slasher movie is a relatively new thing.

It's thought that already existing superstitions with the number's bad luck was merged with the bad association with Friday, the day people were traditionally hanged in Europe. For Christians, Friday is also the day Jesus was crucified.

Friday still chills in the West, though ironically enough, a study once claimed that in fact the number of car crashes went down, not up, on Friday the 13th as people stayed at home out of fear. In Greece, Mexico and Spain, it's Tuesday the 13th that's thought to be cursed.


Apollo 13:

The Apollo 13 lunar mission, subject of 1995's acclaimed Tom Hanks film, was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded.

Before the event, NASA and the crew's commander Jim Lovell brushed off the idea that Apollo 13 was a cursed mission over superstitions.

But numerologists had a field day over the mission's launch date that when written out - 4-11-70 - the individual digits add up to 13. It was also on April 13 that the tank exploded.


Air France doesn't have a 13th row:

Airlines such as Air France often have a 12th and 14th - but no 13th row. Many buildings in the U.S. don't have a 13th floor, and some airports are constructed without a gate 13.

Experts say that it's an economic decision - as customers would not spend money on something they thought was cursed. According to a Gallup poll that appeared in 2007 - spookily enough - 13 percent of Americans said they would be bothered if they were placed on the 13th floor.


It's 4 that's unlucky in China:

In Asia, 13 is just another number. And in China, it's the number 4 that provokes the most fear.

The phenomenon, known technically as "tetraphobia," exists because of linguistic reasons.

"In Chinese the number 4 sounds much like the word for 'death,'" says Patrick Alexander, a social anthropology lecturer at Oxford University. "As a result, the number 4 is often omitted in elevators and other public contexts."

The number 8 is particularly lucky in China and Japan because it sounds similar to "prosperity" or "wealth."

Join the discussion

1000|Characters 1000  Characters
? May 24 2014 at 8:33 AM

I was born on a Friday 13th, and I've been alive ever since.

Flag Reply +33 rate up
19 replies
crowland503 May 24 2014 at 7:48 AM

Who says 13 is unlucky? The original national flag has 13 stripes and 13 stars for the original 13 states. There are various 13 this and that in the United States Seal. What the Masons think!

Flag Reply +22 rate up
3 replies
wnagle53 May 24 2014 at 9:25 AM

If you people at AOL could do something as simple as spelling your headline correctly, it would add some credence to your articles.

"A look at the power of the number 13 in the wold"

or pehaps I don't understand what in the world the wold is !

Flag Reply +19 rate up
8 replies
POORGRAND May 24 2014 at 8:49 AM


Flag Reply +18 rate up
7 replies
pinsnndles May 24 2014 at 8:34 AM

My father, my sister, and my daughter were all born on Friday the 13th. It's lucky in our home.

Flag Reply +16 rate up
3 replies
JIM May 24 2014 at 10:58 AM

You can't take out a 13th row or a 13th floor, you can call it by another number.

Flag Reply +15 rate up
5 replies
PenyKyle May 24 2014 at 8:19 AM

I got married on Friday the 13th, I became involved with my husband on Friday the 13, mine and my husband's softball jerseys have 13 for the # and my son's favorite # is 13. 13 in my life has brought me only good things in the last 7 years. It all depends on how you look at it.

Flag Reply +15 rate up
1 reply
kingofswords72 PenyKyle May 24 2014 at 11:43 AM

Just be prepared for the 7 year itch. Hehehe

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
quinettajames1 kingofswords72 May 24 2014 at 12:42 PM

this is good.What about 7 years bad luck when you break a mirror, or when we were kid's the saying was if you step on a crack you break your mother's back. I'm not superstitious so I don't believe in wives tales.If you were born Friday the 13th then your parents have been blessed with a bundle of joy, and it is the luckiest number for them. God bless.

Flag +4 rate up
ronlodrini May 24 2014 at 9:41 AM

The only date or number that is unlucky for you...is when something happens to you on that day and date! As FDR said, The only thing to fear... is fear it's self! I think today with this president in office we have a lot to fear! Everyone I know is afraid and in fear of their future with an idiot who has set race & Russian relations back 50 years! Fear of not having a job! Fear of not being able to provide for your family...and a fear of our American values going down the drain. I guess we have a lot to fear with Obama in office. Maybe that's how they got the idea for this story?

Flag Reply +14 rate up
16 replies
marcsmpsn May 24 2014 at 9:48 AM

In the Wold? what the hell is that?

Flag Reply +6 rate up
5 replies
motherduck46 May 24 2014 at 11:15 AM

i wish they would get over the 13th being bad luck that is a bunch of garbage my son was born on Friday the 13th and a full moon soooooooooo i consider that a blessed and happy day!!!!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
2 replies
lakearcher motherduck46 May 24 2014 at 7:03 PM

Happy, yes . . . blessed, no.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
JackieRay motherduck46 May 24 2014 at 11:15 PM

does he have sharp teath

Flag Reply 0 rate up
aol~~ 1209600


More From Our Partners