Thu, 12 Apr 2012 20:48:05 GMT | By Tom Phillips
Superstitions and their origins -13 of them

The Number 13

The Number 13 (© Image Source/Getty Images)
  • The Number 13 (© Image Source/Getty Images)
  • Black Cats (© Dean Lipoff / Rex Features)
  • The Scottish Play (© Rex Features)
  • Gargoyles (© traumlichtfabrik/Flickr/Getty Images)
  • Dead Man's Hand (© gfpeck/Flickr/CC)
  • Crossing fingers (© OJO Images / Rex Features)
  • Broken Mirrors (© Novastock / Rex Features)
  • Groundhog Day (© Columbia/Everett/Rex Features)
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The belief that the number 13 is unlucky is so widespread that its origins are unclear - different theories link it to Christian tradition (related to the Last Supper, where Judas is said to have sat at the thirteenth place at the table); Viking lore (the trickster god Loki being the thirteenth god); and the Persian zodiac (in which there are 12 signs, leaving the number 13 to represent chaos.) The specific fear of Friday the 13th dates back to the 19th century, combining two old superstitions: the fear of the number 13 with the belief that Fridays are unlucky days.

The morbid fear of the number 13 is technically known as "triskaidekaphobia", and is so common that many buildings have no Floor 13 - going straight from 12 to 14.
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