Friday the 13th

Posted: December 16, 2013

Superstition surrounding Friday the 13th may not be justified

Friggatriskaidekaphobia. This jumble of letters may sound like gibberish, but in fact it describes the fear of Friday the 13th. The human mind can certainly convince itself of improbable things, but does this phobia have some form of justification?

Aside from the obvious numerical uneasiness that an odd number may cause, the number 13 has historically been associated with unluckiness or unfortunate events.

One theory comes from a Norse myth where the 11 closest friends of Odin joined him at a dinner party (making their guest count exactly 12). Then, Loki, the god of chaos, crashed the party and caused Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and happiness, to die. The thirteenth guest (Loki) brought trouble and death. Not unlike Judas, the thirteenth guest at the biblical last supper, betrayed Jesus.

Maybe the case is that 13 isn’t all bad, maybe 12 is just difficult to follow. There are 12 hours in a day and 12 months in a year and 12 is considered to be a pseudoperfect number (a positive number where the sum of at least two of its divisors equal itself). Adding one to this seemingly perfect integer is bound to make any individual in our modern society uncomfortable, considering that 12 seems to be the basis for our concept of time, but is it a truly unfortunate number as it’s stigma seems to indicate? There seems to be no mathematical claims against the number 13, other than that it comes after 12, but it still creates unrest.

This seemingly irrational fear is not only a concept of the western world. In China, the number 4 is often avoided such as the number 13 here in the United States, but in that case, the phonetics of the language are such that the word for the number ‘4’ is the same word as the word for ‘death’, but with different tonal expressions. There is no phonetic justification in the English language for the avoidance of the number 13, yet less than 5 percent of mid and residential high-rise buildings in Brooklyn and New York have a 13th floor, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

While there may not be any solid reasons to be afraid of the number 13 or more specifically, Friday the 13th, it still remains as a valid and legitimate fear throughout the United States.

You may also like…

U.S. attempt to ‘kill the Indian, save the man’

Government and Church run boarding schools horrific history Less than 100 years ago in the turbulent 1930s a child was taken from his family and forced to attend a boarding school in South Dakota. This school (as well as more than 500 others which operated in...

1 in 6 Minnesotans go hungry

Why many neighbors struggle to meet basic needs, and how you can help As humans, we constantly rely on food to survive, and it should be a right to have access to it. However, that is far from the truth of our society today. In 2021, 483,000 people in Minnesota...

Learning From Living Abroad: Mexico

From sunshine and mountains to ice and snow, M.A. family combines cultures Once you enter Minnehaha Academy Upper School, you see several students just existing. Little do you know, there are multiple students with different cultural backgrounds. One of those students...

Learning from living abroad; Romania

Revisiting Romanian roots Many people have explored different cities, traveled to different states, and maybe even visited foreign lands. But how many people can say that they were born and raised in a country other than the U.S.? For first-year Alexandra Radulescu...

Learning from Living Abroad: England

England packed with sights, fond memories Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in Europe? To be able to see Big Ben, The Eiffel Tower, or The Colosseum only a short trip away? For these three Minnehaha students, siblings senior Philip and first-year...