How and why did the number 13 become such an unlucky number?

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How and why did the number 13 become such an unlucky number?

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We’re not actually sure why 13 is a famous unlucky number in the west. It appears to have got to be a popular thing sometime in the early 1900s but they history of it before then isn’t really known, but it popped into the social world around then and took off.

But 13 isn’t the only unlucky number. Go around to other cultures and you’ll find they’ll have various lucky and unlucky numbers too. In the west, lucky and unlucky numbers are sorta “fun” things, but go to Asia and lucky and unlucky (or auspicious) numbers have much more cultural significance.

In the bible Judas was the 13th disciple, and he was the one who betrayed Jesus. Apparently this is why it’s the unlucky number

You should have asked when and where, because those answers are easier. It was somewhere around New England, and some time in the early 1900s. That’s about as much info as anyone can actually find, the rest is pure speculation.

The Unlucky 13 thing is a purely American phenomenon, and people can only guess at its origin. There’s one theory that suggests Judas Iscariot (not to be confused with Judas Priest) was the 13th apostle, but that doesn’t hold water because someone would have probably figured it out sooner than almost 2 thousand years later. There’s another theory that the 13th law was omitted from Hammurabi’s Law Code, but that one falls flat because none of those laws were numbered. It might be connected to the original 13 British Colonies, but again… why did it take so long and what the hell is unlucky about that?

The theory that makes the most sense (to me, anyway) is that 12 is a very natural number, which means thirteen is unnatural. 12 months in a year, 12 hours in half a day, 12 beers in a 12-pack, 12 eggs in a dozen, the 12 Days Of Christmas, and so on. 12 is a nice even number that everyone seems to like. Of course, this theory makes perfect sense to me because my invisible friend just plain hates odd numbers. No idea why, he won’t say.

The short answer is that nobody knows for certain. There are different competing theories to the effect of:

* It’s a reference to Judas being the “13th” at the table of the Last Supper.

* Some other folklore/mythology where there was a group of 12 heroes and a 13th person betrayed or killed them.

* A reference to some ancient human sacrifice/tragedy/disaster that occurred once every year. The lunar calendar is 13 months, so the 13th cycle became a signal of impending doom.

* A reference to bakers being penalised if their 12 loaves of bread weren’t up to weight; they’d supposedly have to add in an extra loaf to meet the minimums (hence “bakers dozen” being 13).

* Various theories about 13 actually being lucky, and the term “unlucky 13” being ironic, that somehow got taken seriously.

It may be a combination of some or all of these.

I thought it was to do with Judy’s Iscariot.

The 13th apostle who betrayed Jesus.

Though 13 is lucky in some cultures, Italy its considered fortunate. Not sure why.