Happy Triskaidekaphobia Day!


A picture taken in an elevator in a residential apartment block in Shanghai. Floors 0, 4, 13 and 14 are missing. Picture upload by Chrisobyrne at en.wikipedia

Fear of Friday the 13th is called Triskaidekaphobia. Many of us know that already. Many of us also know that the superstition has been attributed to a variety of events, the most famous of which is Christian in nature. It’s believed that Judas was the 13th person at the Last Supper and it is him who is said to have turned in Jesus of Nazareth in to the authorities. Now, the Bible makes no references to the number 13 in relation to this event. The Bible also makes no mention to the number 13 as being inherently evil, or unlucky.

There is information that references a fear of the number 13 before the Last Supper. The Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, one of the earliest deciphered forms of writing, which consists of 282 laws, is said to have no 13th law recorded. There is also information that attributes Loki, a deceitful god of Norse mythology, as being the 13th in that pantheon.

My interest with the fear of the number 13 has recently been structural in nature. You’ve probably been inside an elevator that does not provide you with an option for the 13th floor. I’ve been in buildings that do not have a 13th floor, and instead skip from 12 to 14. I have also seen buildings with an alternative designation to the 13th floor, such as 12A. It’s been said that some buildings close their 13th floor entirely  to the public using the space  instead for mechanical needs. Otis Elevator Company is the world’s largest manufacturers of vertical transportation, elevators and escalators. An article in USA Today stated that according to Otis Elevator Company 85% of elevator panels omit the number 13 entirely (http://traveltips.usatoday.com/isnt-there-13th-floor-hotels-107585.html).

When some people think of superstition and fear of the number 13, particularly Friday the 13th as being silly, just think of how many building designers have complied with their tenants wishes to eliminate the designation of the 13th floor entirely. I suppose many of us do believe the number 13 should be feared.