Friday the 13th happens at least once in every year, sometimes twice, and this year we were lucky to get three of them (the most possible!) – in January, April, and July.
The number 13 is regarded as unlucky in many cultures. The early Romans thought 13 was a sign of death and destruction. According to Norse mythology, 13 people sitting at a table brought bad luck. There were 13 people at The Last Supper. Fear of the number 13 is called “triskaidekaphobia.”
Friday the 13th is considered by many to be an especially unlucky day, though its not really known why. The earliest known reference is when King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest of the Knights Templar on Friday, October 13, 1307. In Spanish-speaking countries, it’s actually Tuesday the 13th (martes trece) that is considered a day of bad luck. The Greeks also consider Tuesday the 13th to be an unlucky day.
The number 13 may seem unlucky to some, but the number 13 and Friday the 13th have long been considered lucky in Judaism. The number 13 is also considered lucky in China, because it sounds like the word for “sure life.” In northern India, the number 13 is special since the word 13 is pronounced “tera” in Punjabi, which is also a form of addressing God.
13 Fun Facts About the Number 13
1. 13 goes into 999,999 exactly 76,923 times.
2. On the periodic table of elements, aluminum has an atomic number of 13.
3. 13 is the smallest integer with eight letters in its spelled out name (thirteen).
4. There are 13 Archimedean solids.
5. 13 is the age at which children officially become teenagers. In Jewish tradition, 13 signifies the age at which a boy is considered to be mature and becomes a Bar Mitzvah, “one to whom the commandments apply.” A ceremony is held and the boy reads from the Torah for the first time.
6. During Spanish and Mexican wedding ceremonies, it is customary for the groom to give his bride a gift of 13 coins, representing Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles.
7. Early nursery rhymes stated that there were 13 months in a year because of the natural moon cycle that was used to count the lunar year. In England, a calendar of 13 months of 28 days each, plus one extra day, was used until Tudor times.
8. There were 13 British colonies in North America that rebelled against British rule in 1775. They subsequently became the original 13 United States of America.
9. On June 14, 1777, Congress declared that the American flag should have 13 alternate red and white stripes, with 13 white stars in a blue background. The American flag today has 50 stars, one for each state, with 13 horizontal stripes representing the original 13 states.
10. In the Great Seal of the United States there are 13 olive leaves, 13 olives, 13 arrows, 13 levels of bricks in the pyramid, 13 sides showing on the ribbon, 13 stripes, and 13 stars.
11. 13 is the number of guns in a salute to U.S. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps Major Generals, and Navy and Coast Guard Rear Admirals Upper Half.
12. The first whole number to have the sum of its digits equal 13 and also be divisible by 13 is 247 (2+4+7=13)(13×19=247). There are 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. The next number to have these attributes is 364 (3+6+4)(13×28). This is one day less than a year. 13 flipped around is 31, which accounts for the number of days in most months.
13. There are 13 loaves in a “baker’s dozen,” an expression which started in 13th-century England. The practice of baking 13 items for an intended dozen was to prevent “short measure,” on the basis that one of the 13 could be lost, eaten, burnt or ruined in some way, leaving the baker with the original dozen.
Read: Friday the 13th Phobia Rooted in Ancient History from National Geographic.