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The Quick 10: 10 Reasons Why the Number 13 is Unlucky

It’s Friday the 13th again! Anyone see any black cats? Walk under any ladders? I don’t really subscribe to the theory that Friday the 13th is unluckier than any other day, but superstitious people may have good reason to stay in bed on days like today. Here are 10 reasons the number 13 is unlucky.

supper1. There were 13 people at the Last Supper. It’s said that Judas Iscariot – the one who betrayed Jesus – was the 13th man to take his place at the table.
2. Similarly, there’s a Norse legend that has 12 gods sitting down to a banquet when the 13th (uninvited) god, Loki, showed up. Loki killed one of the other gods, which led to events that eventually resulted in Ragnarök – the death of a bunch of gods, a slew of natural disasters, and the eradication of everything on earth save for two human survivors. There’s a lot more to the story than that, but you get the general idea.

3. Traditionally there used to be 13 steps leading up the gallows. There’s also a legend that a hangman’s noose traditionally contained 13 turns, but it’s actually more like eight.

4. Apollo 13 is the only unsuccessful moon mission (intended to get men on the moon, anyway) thus far. An oxygen tank exploded and the survival of the astronauts on board was pretty touch-and-go for several days, but they did all come home safely in the end (but you already knew that).

5. There was a mass arrest and execution of the Knights Templar on Friday, October 13, 1307.

6. According to Mr. Krabs on Spongebob Squarepants, there are 13 dirty words. Squidward must be a George Carlin fan, because he responded with “I thought there were only seven?” “Not if you’re a sailor,” Mr. Krabs replied.

7. Although a “coven” is now just considered to be a group of witches (or vampires, if you’re into a certain young adult series about vampires), it was once believed that a coven was made up of exactly 13 members.

manson8. There’s an old superstition that says if you have 13 letters in your name, you’re bound to have the “devil’s luck.” Silly, yes, but slightly more convincing when you consider that Charles Manson, Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all contain 13 letters (I know, I know, what about their middle names?).
9. Kids officially become teenagers at the age of 13, and we all know that’s a scary phase.

10. In numerology, the number 12 is considered to be the representation of perfection and completion. So it stands to reason that trying to improve upon perfection by adding one is a very bad idea indeed – your greed will be rewarded with bad luck.

And here’s a bonus fact for you today. In the late 1800s existed a group called The Thirteen Club. Their purpose was to debunk the legend that 13 people at a table would result in the death of one of them within a year. They met on the 13th of the month and had dinner 13 people to a table, and to make matters worse, they purposely spilled salt on the table without throwing it over their shoulders. The horror! They also fined members who showed up late – 13 cents, of course. Members of the 13 Club included five U.S. presidents – Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and Chester A. Arthur. I’m not sure if it’s worth noting that two of these presidents were shot – one fatally, of course – but I’ll mention it anyway. And, if you’re keeping track, Chester A. Arthur only became president because he was vice when Garfield was assassinated.

Be careful this evening, _flossers! If you find yourself at dinner this evening and notice that there’s a baker’s dozen of you at the table, keep your eyes peeled for assassins. And for goodness’ sake, don’t knock the salt shaker over.


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