Number 13 – could it be lucky for you?

Today is my thirteenth day taking part in the blogging challenge! So, pardon me if I’m being predictable, but I fell to thinking about the number 13 and the superstitions that surround it. Should I even write a thirteenth blog? In our western culture, it stands alone as the number most likely to affect our actions and choices. My Celtic background leads me to bid magpies good morning and avoid walking under ladders, but today I fell to wondering if the number 13 could perhaps be a lucky one.

Triskaidekaphobics, or those who fear the number 13, abound in our society, despite much rational, scientific research being inconclusive about the number. Just as many studies, of which there are many, have found in favour of it being lucky as those who believe otherwise. Yet still, people will avoid taking important decisions on a thirteenth day, builders omit the figure when numbering a housing development and tall buildings will avoid naming a floor as thirteenth. The possibility of a thirteenth guest at a dinner table calls for a swift revision and an extra invitation to be issued.

Traditional beliefs, myths and legends celebrate the number 12, which is considered to be the representation of perfection and completion. We have 12 months in a year, 12 zodiac signs, 12days of Christmas, and many more. On the other hand, there are many myths and legends pointing to that numbers neighbour as less blessed. According to popular lore, there are 13 steps leading up to the gallows, thirteen menstrual cycles in a year, and Friday the thirteenth causes many to take a “duvet day”, particularly if they have watched the horror film series involving a mass murderer!

As always one to support an underdog, and ever an optimist, I naturally prefer to take a more positive outlook. Many countries, particularly Eastern ones see this figure as a good one. I love the Chinese, known for being keen on numerology, for their interpretation of 13, which is pronounced as shisan in Mandarin and can mean ‘definitely vibrant’. Even Italy takes a positive view with the expression fare tredici (“to do 13”) meaning to hit the jackpot. The United States of America, originally formed from 13 colonies, continues to fly their flag with that number of stars and stripes. (Please note I shall not become political about that country’s current “fortunes”!)

The Arts, although often guided by superstitions, are not afraid of this digit. Take music for example. There are 13 notes, by inclusive counting, in a full chromatic musical octave. The legendary Johnny Cash lived to a ripe old age, with a fruitful career, despite releasing the track titled Thirteen*. Many bands and albums have taken their chances with the numeral. Renowned actress Holly Hunter and fellow cast members of the film titled Thirteen received 14 wins and 49 nominations.

A brief dip into Numerology, tells me to add the digits of any number over 9, which gives those who wish an alternative number Four. Although still being considered a less fortunate number by the Chinese, this gives us such delights as the seasons, the directions, and the elements of Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. As my own birthdate is 13 backwards, perhaps I shall view this number today as auspicious and publish this blog with fingers crossed. Good luck everyone!



Johnny Cash – Thirteen

Holly Hunter film Thirteen

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