An Overview of the Fears associated with Triskaidekaphobia

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It is hard to believe in this technologically advanced age that people are still afraid of a number. It even has a special name to describe this phobia, TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA. Note the number is so scary it has to be referred to by its Greek roots, “tris” meaning three “deka” meaning ten; it is, of course, the number THIRTEEN.

There, it has been written and surprise, surprise the computer has not blown up and the ceiling is still intact. So why is it that many, seemingly intelligent people, cry shy of it? Woe betide anyone who meets or greets on Friday 13th. No less a personage than Henry Ford, himself, would never do business on Friday 13th.

There is no hard evidence to prove when this fear first began. Some attribute it to Jesus’ Last Supper, when thirteen sat down to eat and one was betrayed and died. But it is not only the Christian faith that finds seating thirteen at a dinner party unlucky but also the Norse mythology. Their story involves a gate crasher in the form of Loki, the God of mischief, inciting another guest to kill Balder with a sprig of mistletoe. In other words the original twelve dinner guests were safe add one more:- DEATH. Paul Getty would not attend a party if he found there were thirteen seated at the table; neither would Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Many hotels will not have a room thirteen or a thirteenth floor because guests would avoid staying there. Similarly a good many streets do not have a number 13 preferring 12A and 12B; once again because people did not want to live under the threat of number thirteen.

Even bread manufacturers will not mention the dreaded number. In the dim, dark, distant past Bakers were fined very heavily if they sold underweight bread, so they included an additional loaf, to the required twelve, to ensure they were legal. This practice was known as the Bakers’ dozen not the thirteenth loaf.

Our view of the universe is also coloured by this irrationality. Only twelve constellations in the zodiac are recognised, yet Ophiuchus, by its very location, could be included so why was it omitted?

Be careful how you name your children because if there are thirteen letters in their name they are said to have the devil’s luck. Why else would there be thirteen members of a witches’ coven?

Some people believe that the fear of thirteen is actually a mistake.  The Ancient Egyptians considered thirteen a mystical number that referred to the afterlife, the stage of spiritual development following the twelve developmental stages of life. In other words thirteen represented a glorious, mystical future. However over time this came to mean death and all the horrors that are associated with it.

There, the number thirteen has been mentioned numerous times and nothing has happened….YET!

More about this author: Helen Rollason

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