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It’s Friday the 13th: Why do people consider it unlucky?

We bet you didn't realize the number 13 is often omitted from these things.

Today is Friday the 13th; and if you fear this day, then you probably have what they call paraskevidekatriaphobia

About 10 percent of the population fears the number 13. But why? There’s no real clear answer as to why the number 13 became deemed so unlucky.

One theory goes back to one of the world’s oldest legal documents, the Code of Hammurabi, which was said to have omitted a 13th law from its list of rules. It turns out the code doesn’t numerically list its laws, and the omission of the number 13 was an error from an early translator. 

Other theories suggest the number 13 is unlucky because, according to the Bible, the 13th dinner guest at Jesus’s last supper was Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus. 

And while there have been many studies trying to prove how unlucky Friday the 13th can be, there isn’t much fact-based evidence to suggest anything more than coincidences. 

However, many people still avoid the number 13 in these situations:

  • The 13th floor is often skipped in hotels, apartments and office buildings. It is replaced with “12B”, “14A”, or “M” -- the 13th letter of the alphabet. 

  • Many airports avoid the 13th row on a plane and gate number 13.

  • Some hospitals avoid the number 13 on hospital beds because it is seen as a bad omen to one’s health.

  • Most people, like President Franklin D. Roosevelt, avoid sitting down to dinner with 13 people. Some find it unlucky to have 13 dinner guests. 

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