Strikingly folkloric aspects of the number 13 have been noted in various cultures around the world: one theory is that this is due to the cultures employing lunar-solar calendars (there are approximately 12.41 lunations per solar year, and hence 12 "true months" plus a smaller, and often portentous, thirteenth month). This can be witnessed, for example, in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" of Western European tradition.
The Romance languages use different systems: In Italian, 11 is the first compound number (undici), as in Romanian (unsprezece), while in Spanish and Portuguese, the numbers up to and including 15 (Spanish quince, Portuguese quinze), and in French up to and including 16 (seize) have their own names. This is also the case in most Slavic languages, Hindi-Urdu and other South Asian languages.[example needed]
In Germany, according to an old tradition, 13 (dreizehn), as the first compound number, was the first number written in digits; the numbers 0 (null) through 12 (zwölf) were spelled out. The Duden (the German standard dictionary) now calls this tradition (which was actually never written down as an official rule) outdated and no longer valid, but many writers still follow it.
In Shia Islam, 13 signifies the 13th day of the month of Rajab (the Lunar calendar), which is the birth of Imam Ali. 13 also is a total of 1 Prophet and 12 Imams in the Islamic School of Thought. However, in Sunni Islam, the number 13 bears no symbolic significance.
The apparitions of the Virgin of Fátima in 1917 were claimed to occur on the 13th day of six consecutive months.
In Catholic devotional practice, the number thirteen is also associated with Saint Anthony of Padua, since his feast day falls on June 13. A traditional devotion called the Thirteen Tuesdays of St. Anthony involves praying to the saint every Tuesday over a period of thirteen weeks. Another devotion, St. Anthony's Chaplet, consists of thirteen decades of three beads each.
According to famous Sakhi (Evidence) or story of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, when he was an accountant at a town of Sultanpur Lodhi, he was distributing groceries to people. When he gave groceries to the 13th person, he stopped because in Gurmukhi and Hindi the word 13 is called Terah, which means yours. And Guru Nanak Dev Ji kept saying, "Yours, yours, yours..." remembering God. People reported to the emperor that Guru Nanak Dev Ji was giving out free food to the people. When treasures were checked, there was more money than before.
The Vaisakhi, which commemorates the creation of "Khalsa" or pure Sikh was celebrated on April 13 for many years.
In Judaism, 13 signifies the age at which a boy matures and becomes a Bar Mitzvah, i.e., a full member of the Jewish faith (counts as a member of Minyan).
This elevator's building and this airline both skip the number 13 and jump from floor/row 12 to 14
The number 13 is considered an unlucky number in some countries. The end of the Mayan calendar's 13th Baktun was superstitiously feared as a harbinger of the apocalyptic 2012 phenomenon. Fear of the number 13 has a specifically recognized phobia, triskaidekaphobia, a word coined in 1911. The superstitious sufferers of triskaidekaphobia try to avoid bad luck by keeping away from anything numbered or labelled thirteen. As a result, companies and manufacturers use another way of numbering or labelling to avoid the number, with hotels and tall buildings being conspicuous examples (thirteenth floor). It is also considered unlucky to have thirteen guests at a table. Friday the 13th has been considered an unlucky day.
There are a number of theories as to why the number thirteen became associated with bad luck, but none of them have been accepted as likely.
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 is unlucky because one of those thirteen, Judas Iscariot, was the betrayer of Jesus Christ. From the 1890s, a number of English language sources relate the "unlucky" thirteen to an idea that at the Last Supper, Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table.
Full Moons: A year with 13 full moons instead of 12 posed problems for the monks in charge of the calendars. "This was considered a very unfortunate circumstance, especially by the monks who had charge of the calendar of thirteen months for that year, and it upset the regular arrangement of church festivals. For this reason, thirteen came to be considered an unlucky number." However, a typical century has about 37 years that have 13 full moons, compared to 63 years with 12 full moons, and typically every third or fourth year has 13 full moons.
A Repressed Lunar Cult: In ancient cultures, the number 13 represented femininity, because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). The theory is that, as the solar calendar triumphed over the lunar, the number thirteen became anathema.
Hammurabi's Code: There is a myth that the earliest reference to thirteen being unlucky or evil is in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (circa 1780 BC), where the thirteenth law is said to be omitted. In fact, the original Code of Hammurabi has no numeration. The translation by L.W. King (1910), edited by Richard Hooker, omitted one article: If the seller have gone to (his) fate (i. e., have died), the purchaser shall recover damages in said case fivefold from the estate of the seller. Other translations of the Code of Hammurabi, for example the translation by Robert Francis Harper, include the 13th article.
In Italy, 13 is considered a lucky number. The expression fare tredici ("to do 13") means hit the jackpot. 17 is considered an unlucky number instead.
Colgate University also considers 13 a lucky number. They were founded in 1819 by 13 men with 13 dollars, 13 prayers and 13 articles. (To this day, members of the Colgate community consider the number 13 a good omen.) In fact, the campus address is 13 Oak Drive in Hamilton, New York, and the male a cappella group is called the Colgate 13.
In the Mayan Tzolk'in calendar, trecenas mark cycles of 13-day periods. The pyramids are also set up in 9 steps divided into 7 days and 6 nights, 13 days total.
The first flag of the United States bore thirteen stripes, alternating red and white, and thirteen white stars in the blue union. The thirteen stripes represented the Thirteen Colonies from which the United States was created, and the thirteen stars represented the number of states in the new nation. When two new states were added to the Union in 1795, the flag bore fifteen stars and fifteen stripes. With the addition of five new states in 1818, the number of stripes was re-set and permanently fixed at thirteen.
The Great Seal of the United States bears many images of the number thirteen, representing the Thirteen Colonies from which the United States was created. On the Seal's observe, the overhead glory bears thirteen stars. The chest shield in front of the spread eagle bears thirteen stripes (seven white and six red). In the eagle's right talon, it holds the Olive Branch of Peace, bearing thirteen olives and thirteen olive leaves. In the eagle's left talon, it holds the Weapons of War, consisting of thirteen arrows. In the eagle's mouth, it holds a scroll bearing the national motto "E Pluribus Unum" (which, by coincidence, consists of thirteen letters). On the Seal's reverse, the unfinished pyramid consists of thirteen levels.
Apollo 13 was a NASA Moon mission famous for being a "successful failure" in 1970.