13 is the natural number following 12 and preceding 14. And this happens to be my favorite number. In mathematics, the number 13 is the sixth prime number, so, everyone knows what a Prime number is. But do you know what a happy number is? Okay, today I am going to celebrate my love for the number 13 with my trove of trivia on it.
Getting back to the interesting thing, happy number. A happy number is a number defined by the following process: Starting with any positive integer, replace the number by the sum of the squares of its digits, and repeat the process until the number equals 1 (where it will stay), or it loops endlessly in a cycle which does not include 1. Those numbers for which this process ends in 1 are happy numbers, while those that do not end in 1 are unhappy numbers (or sad numbers). The happiness of a number is preserved by rearranging the digits, and by inserting or removing any number of zeroes anywhere in the number. And yes 13 is a happy number.
The number 13 has always been associated with a variety of religious beliefs especially in Roman Catholicism and Judaism. The first example from the Roman Catholic sect that springs to mind is The Last Supper, At Jesus Christ’s last supper, there were thirteen people around the table, counting Christ and the twelve apostles. Some believe this unlucky because one of those thirteen, Judas Iscariot, was the betrayer of Jesus Christ. From here if you are Dan Brown fan you can take leap to the famous Knights Templar history. On Friday 13 October 1307, King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest of the Knights Templar and most of the knights were tortured and killed. I will come back to the vivid cult association with Friday the 13th later in this post.
The concept of this number 13 being lucky or unlucky is also very interesting; so much is the influence of the beliefs of the unlucky nature of the number that there is a phobia named after it. Triskaidekaphobia (from Greek tris meaning “3”, kai meaning “and”, deka meaning “10” and phobos meaning “fear” or “morbid fear”) is fear the number 13. The term was first used by Isador Coriat in Abnormal Psychology.
Did you know it is because of this belief and fear most Hotels do not have a designated 13th Floor?
Now coming to the other phobia associated with the number 13, the one called paraskevidekatriaphobia (from Παρασκευή Paraskevi, Greek for Friday) or friggatriskaidekaphobia (after Frigg, the Norse goddess Friday is named after in English).
According to folklorists, there is no written evidence for a “Friday the 13th” superstition before the 19th century. The earliest known documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards’ 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th. One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that 13 is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day. We already talked about the superstition of unlucky 13. Why Friday is unlucky seems to stem from two more reasons. One, Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century’s The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Two, Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus on the Friday before Easter. And who can forget Dan Brown’s Knights Templar reference.
As I researched the subject of 13, I chuckled thinking how foolish people really are till I came to what is the social & economic impact of this irrational fear of the number 13 combined with the fear for Friday the 13th.
Did you know an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day making it the most feared day and date in history? This information is according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. It’s been estimated that [US] $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day.
The Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics (CVS) on June 12, 2008, stated that “fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays, because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home. Statistically speaking, driving is slightly safer on Friday the 13th, at least in the Netherlands; in the last two years, Dutch insurers received reports of an average 7,800 traffic accidents each Friday; but the average figure when the 13th fell on a Friday was just 7,500.”
With the advent of social media, Friday the 14th never goes unnoticed. Add to it the good old Hollywood created buzz and fear psychosis from the movie franchise of the same name. Friday the 13th is an American horror franchise that comprises twelve slasher films, a television show, novels, comic books, and tie‑in merchandise. The franchise mainly focuses on the fictional character Jason Voorhees, who drowned as a boy at Camp Crystal Lake due to the negligence of the camp staff. Decades later, the lake is rumored to be “cursed” and is the setting for a series of mass murders. Jason is featured in all of the films, as either the killer or the motivation for the killings. The original film was written by Victor Miller and was produced and directed by Sean S. Cunningham. However, neither returned to write or direct any of the sequels. The films have grossed over $465 million at the box-office worldwide.
The first film was created to cash in on the success of Halloween (1978), and its own success led Paramount Pictures to purchase the full licensing rights to Friday the 13th. Frank Mancuso, Jr., who produced the films, also developed the television show Friday the 13th: The Series after Paramount released Jason Lives. The television series was not connected to the franchise by any character or setting, but was created based on the idea of “bad luck and curses”, which the film series symbolized. While the franchise was owned by Paramount, four films were adapted into novels, with Friday the 13th Part III adapted by two separate authors. When the franchise was sold to New Line Cinema, Cunningham returned as a producer to oversee two additional films, in addition to a crossover film with character Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street film series. Under New Line Cinema, 13 novellas and various comic book series featuring Jason were published.
Although the films were not popular with critics, Friday the 13th is considered one of the most successful media franchises in America—not only for the success of the films, but also because of the extensive merchandising and repeated references to the series in popular culture. The franchise’s popularity has generated a fan base who have created their own Friday the 13th films, fashioned replica Jason Voorhees costumes, and tattooed their bodies with Friday the 13th artwork. Jason’s hockey mask has even become one of the most recognizable images in popular culture.
The media fueled frenzy around Friday the 13th continues. But when I went to research on lucky number 13 I found very little on it. It is not surprising the authors who edit Wikipedia and the content writers of sites find the irrational fear psychosis more intriguing. Supposedly in Italy in Italy, 13 is also considered a lucky number,
To me the number 13 remains lucky and I am not in fear of Friday the 13th, but I will admit I have bought a bed with bottom storage just to avoid worrying about the monsters under my bed. But that’s a story for another post. As I am typing this I am watching a re-run of House and I remember in the Season 5 of the series, there is an episode called Lucky Thirteen. For the uninitiated, House, also known as House, M.D. is an American television medical drama that originally ran on the Fox network for eight seasons, from November 16, 2004 to May 21, 2012. The show’s main character is Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), a drug-addicted, unconventional, misanthropic medical genius who leads a team of diagnosticians at the fictional Princeton–Plainsboro Teaching Hospital (PPTH) in New Jersey.
So Thirteen is the nickname for Remy “Thirteen” Hadley, who is a fictional character in the TV Series House, portrayed by Olivia Wilde. She is part of the new di agnostic team assembled by Dr. Gregory House. Nothing of great significance to the duality of the number 13 happens in the episode I referred to but, like all my thoughts, this one just ran wild for a bit. This was of course a good excuse to introduce one of my favorite medical dramas to you and a favorite character playing medical practitioner, Dr. Gregory House who is closely followed by Dr. Hannibal Lector. Now you have a sneak preview of more fun things to come.
Last but not the least; do tell me, do you believe the number 13 has any significance, lucky or unlucky? Hope to hear something interesting from you in the comments section.
Reference Sources: Wikipedia, iMdb