Triskaidekaphobia

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Triskaidekaphobia (from Greek tris meaning "3," kai meaning "and," and deka meaning "10") is fear of the number 13; it is a superstition and related to a specific fear of Friday the 13th, called paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia.

The term was first used by I.H. Coriat in "Abnormal Psychology".[1]

Contents

Origins

There is a common myth that the earliest reference to thirteen being unlucky or evil is from the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (circa 1780 BCE), where the thirteenth law is omitted. In fact, the original Code of Hammurabi has no numeration. The translation by L.W. King (1910), edited by Richard Hooker, omitted one article:

If the seller have gone to (his) fate (i. e., have died), the purchaser shall recover damages in said case fivefold from the estate of the seller.

Other translations of the Code of Hammurabi, for example the translation by Robert Francis Harper, include the 13th article.[2]

Some Christian traditions have it that at the Last Supper, Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table.[3] However, the number 13 is not uniformly bad in the Judeo-Christian tradition. For example, the 13 attributes of God (also called the thirteen attributes of mercy) are enumerated in the Torah (Exodus 34:6–7).[4] Some modern Christian churches also use 13 attributes of God in sermons.[5]

Triskaidekaphobia may have also affected the Vikings—it is believed that Loki in the Norse pantheon was the 13th god.[citation needed] More specifically, Loki was believed to have engineered the murder of Balder, and was the 13th guest to arrive at the funeral. This is perhaps related to the superstition that if thirteen people gather, one of them will die in the following year. Another Norse tradition involves the myth of Norna-Gest: when the uninvited norns showed up at his birthday celebration—thus increasing the number of guests from ten to thirteen—the norns cursed the infant by magically binding his lifespan to that of a mystic candle they presented to him.

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