Tomorrow is the 13th. The number thirteen is one of those interesting numbers that carries superstitions and mysteries almost equal to the pre-game rituals of professional athletes. Here are thirteen facts about the number 13. (Not to worry—I’ll have 13 more facts about the number 13 tomorrow.)
- There is always at least one Friday the 13th every year. This year, we are fortunate enough to have two Friday the 13ths: one in January (hope you enjoyed it) and one in October. Black cats will be sighted everywhere.
- Thirteen is a prime number. (You knew that, but I thought it worth repeating.)
- Thirteen is the square root of 169 and the cube root of 2197. This will not be on the test.
- There are four suits in a deck of cards with 13 cards in each suit. (You knew that too.)
- In a deck of Tarot Cards, the number 13 is the Death Card. (Usually, the Death Card means change or transition which is not always bad, but actual death is generally considered unlucky.)
- There are lots of “reasons” the number 13 is associated with bad luck. One reason is that there were 13 people at the Last Supper. Very unlucky indeed for one in particular.
- Another reason is that 12 is a “holy” number (12 signs of the Zodiac, etc.) and since 13 follows 12 it must be the opposite of holy.
- Continuing the 12-13 connection/competition, some experts believe that the superstition around 13 is based on the calendar. That is, lunar calendars had 12 “true” months and threw in an extra (and by “extra” we mean not-regular and by “not regular” we mean bad and by “bad” we mean unlucky) month every so often to get the calendar back on schedule.
- Alexander the Great (well-known general and extremely shy person) wanted to be a deity. There were 12 gods in the pantheon and when he built a statue to himself he became (or wished to have become) the 13th. Then he died. Bad luck, Alex.
- A properly constructed hangman’s noose has 13 wraps above the noose, and
- traditionally, there are 13 steps leading up to the gallows platform (that was the proper height for breaking a person’s neck).
- The blade of a guillotine fell from 13 feet.
- And rounding out our list with a whole bunch of thirteens, Apollo 13 was the 13th mission launched from pad #39 (13×3). It launched April 13th at 13:13 CST. I have chills. On the plus side, it landed safely and went on to happily ever after at the box office.
Tune in tomorrow for the surprisingly happy part 13.