Significant Number Factoid Friday – Thirteen, Unlucky For Some

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”


They’ve been ‘beautiful’,  they’ve been ‘big’  and they’ve been ‘unusual’

Today we have ‘significant’ number thirteen, unlucky for some.



13 Thirteen

The number 13 seems to give a lot of people trouble. Indeed the fear of the number 13 is so pervasive that it even has a phobia named after it  –  triskaidekaphobia. 


In the Bible.

  • At the Last Supper in Christian theology, there were 13 dinner guests, so that number is unlucky because Christ was betrayed.
  • Thirteen famines are recorded in the Scriptures.
  • The destruction of Jericho is stamped with the number thirteen, because the city was compassed once each day for six days, and seven times on the seventh day, making 13 times in all (6+7).
  • All the names of Satan are divisible by thirteen.
  • In Mark 7 Jesus mentions thirteen things that defile a person (evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride and foolishness).



  • The ancient Hebrews thought 13 was unlucky because the thirteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the letter M, which is the first letter in the word “mavet,” meaning death.
  • In Norse mythology, 12 benevolent gods were gathering in a hall and the evil god Loki attacked the group. Loki was the 13th guest, and the god Balder was killed in the melee.
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt was quite fearful of the number 13, and he took great pains to avoid hosting a meal for a group of that size. It is said that if he had a cancellation and it looked as if there might be 13 people to lunch, he would invite his secretary to join them so there wouldn’t be 13.
  • Industrialist Henry Ford wouldn’t do business on Friday, the 13th.
  • Multimillionaire Paul Getty once stated “I wouldn’t care to be one of thirteen at a table.”
  • Some speculate that a fear of the number 13 is the reason we recognize only 12 constellations in the Zodiac, omitting a thirteenth… Ophiuchus ( the Serpent Holder) that, by its location, could be included.
  • Years ago, London bakers were subject to harsh penalties if they were caught selling bread in what was called short weight. The bakers would add an extra loaf to each dozen to be sure the sale met the minimum weight requirement. They avoided the word thirteen and the process of adding an extra loaf became known as the “baker’s dozen.”
  • Some airlines do not have a 13th row.
  • Most tall buildings do not have a 13th floor.
  • Many hotel guests refuse to stay in Room 13, so rooms are frequently numbered 12, 12A, and 14.
  • The 13th card of the Tarot is the card of Death.
  • The composer, Arnold Schoenberg, was a noted triskaidekaphobe. He died as he had predicted at the age of 76 (7+6=13), on a Friday 13th at 13 minutes to midnight.
  • In April 1970, NASA launched Apollo 13 at 1313 hours Central Time from pad 39. The flight was commanded by James A. Lovell with John L. “Jack” Swigert as Command Module pilot and Fred W. Haise as Lunar Module pilot. (Swigert was a late replacement for the original CM pilot Ken Mattingly, who was grounded by the flight surgeon after exposure to German measles.) They were scheduled for rest periods beginning 13 minutes past the hour and on April 13 at 21:07:53 CST (55:54:53 Ground Elapsed Time) an oxygen tank exploded and the mission had to be aborted. The rest is history – and a movie, Apollo 13, based on ‘Lost Moon’, Jim Lovell’s and Jeffrey Kluger’s book about the event.
Apollo 13 insignia
Insignia of the ill-fated Apollo XIII Mission


Friday the 13th Myths:

  • If you cut your hair on Friday the 13th, someone in your family will die.
  • A child born on Friday the 13th will be unlucky for life.
  • If a funeral procession passes you on Friday the 13th, you will be the next to die.


In the United States

  • the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution officially outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.
  • thirteen colonies rebelled against British Rule and King George III in what led to the American Revolutionary War and the eventual birth of the United States of America. The colonies were Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
  • there are thirteen stripes on the USA flag to commemorate these original colonies.
USA flag - Stars and Stripes
USA flag – Stars and Stripes





13 thoughts on “Significant Number Factoid Friday – Thirteen, Unlucky For Some

    • Thanks for your comment. Glad you enjoyed today’s post. It can be fascinating to look at the various beliefs/superstitions people have throughout the world.

  1. Interesting – you chose the 48-star variant of our flag, which flew over our troops in World War 1, World War 2, and Korea!
    Okay, let’s see. BB-13 was the USS Virginia, one of the last pre-dreadnoughts in the US Navy. CV-13 was the USS Franklin, named after Ben Franklin. Most large warships moved from 12″ to 14″ guns – the Brits used 13.5″, the French came closest with 330mm (12.99″) guns on the Dunkerque and Strasbourg. Though there was no B-13 bomber of F-13 fighter, there was an F-13 photo recon variant of the B-29 Superfortress. And last, yet far from least, the 13th Canadian Regiment would go on to give birth to my beloved “adoptive” home unit of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. (Many members of the 13th Regiment used Pattern 13 rifles during World War 1.)

    • Good additions, you are certainly into your militaria; And well spotted re the flag – I wondered who was going to comment on that (er.. code for I didn’t notice it myself)
      Which reminds me of Capt Mainwaring – ever watched Dad’s Army?

      • I don’t think we get that, unless it’s buried in the depths of BBC America’s line-up. I am familiar with the Home Guard, some great stories out of them. They took down signs pointing to various villages, to foul up German paratroopers, only to end up nearly paralysing southern England. They had some neat toys, too, including the infamous “sticky bomb” – a glass sphere, full of nitroglycerin, covered in glue. You were supposed to pull a pin (releasing a covering and arming the thing), then run up to a tank and smack it on, then running away before things went BOOM! Not too popular, considering they tended to stick to the soldiers’ uniforms FAR better than to tanks.
        That reminds me of a quick story. My buddy in our German re-enacting unit built a dummy magnetic mine – it was a shaped-charge tank-killer that you were (again) supposed to run up and stick to a tank. Well, he made his (without the explosives) with some really potent magnets. He brought it out to our net event, where there happened to be an M-113 personnel carrier. Dave decided to go “stick it to the tank” (or APC). He runs up, smacks the thing on the side, and it drops to the ground. He tries this several times, while the rest of us are LAUGHING our heads off. The “trick”? M-113s are made of ALUMINUM, which ain’t magnetic. Poor Dave…. 😀

  2. I’ve never fully understood the power 13 has over so many people. I do however enjoy the humour of Dad’s Army very much – thanks for a nice trip down memory lane!

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