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Triskaidekaphobia :: Fear of the number 13.

Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of 13, a number commonly associated with bad luck in Western culture. While fear of the number 13 can be traced back to medieval times, the word triskaidekaphobia itself is of recent vintage.

This superstition leads some people to fear or avoid anything involving the number 13. In particular, this leads to interesting practices such as the numbering of floors as 1, 2, ..., 11, 12, 14, 15, ... (Sloane's A011760; the "elevator sequence"), omitting the number 13, in many high-rise American hotels, the numbering of streets avoiding 13th Avenue, and so on.

Apparently, 13 hasn't always been considered unlucky. In fact, it appears that in ancient times, 13 was either considered in a positive light or (more commonly) not at all (Adams). The association of bad luck with the number 13 has been attributed to the fact there were 13 people at the Last Supper of Jesus, although this association seems to have originated only in medieval times.

Triskaidekaphobia also may be related to Norse mythology, which tells how the god Odin invited eleven of his closest friends to a dinner party at his home in Valhalla, only to have his party crashed by Loki, the god of evil and turmoil, thus giving a total of 13 people. The legend further relates how Balder, one of the most beloved gods, tried to throw Loki out of the party, resulting in a scuffle and ultimately Balder's death with a mistletoe-tipped arrow.



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