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LIFESTYLE

Triskaidekaphobia: The irrational fear of the number 13

If you also shy away from the number 13 and Friday the 13th horrifies you, then it’s probably a case of triskaidekaphobia.

Those who fear the number 13 have, in most cases, reasons to do so: historically, the number 13 has had negative and “demonic” connotations. Friday the 13th (or Thursday in Hispanic countries), for example, is related to bad fortune mainly because it’s connected to the crucifixion of Christ and other biblical events.

In that same tradition, that number is “cursed” because Judas Iscariot occupied that position at the Last Supper, in addition to the fact that the antichrist is mentioned in chapter 13 of the Book of Revelation. It is also said that witches gather in groups of 12 because the thirteenth place belongs to the Devil. All these, of course, are legends that give way to superstitions and, in the most extreme cases, irrational fears such as triskaidekaphobia.

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What is triscaidecaphobia?

While there is no evidence that the number 13 has any kind of positive or negative influence on people’s lives, triskaidekaphobia is quite real. It is the irrational fear of the number 13. If you are a person with some degree of triskaidekaphobia, you would probably prefer not to sit in the 13th seat on a bus or stay on the 13th floor of a hotel. The phobia can be relatively common, and that is why the number is omitted when it comes to rooms, buildings, or airplane seats.

Triskaidekaphobia is not to be confused with paraskevidekatriaphobia, which is the phobia of Friday the 13th (the day and probably also the 80s’ movie). The fear of Tuesday the 13th in Hispanic countries is called trezidavomartiophobia.

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A notable triskaidekaphobia person was the German painter and composer Arnold Schönberg. He was the creator of the technique of dodecaphonism (series of 12 notes) and the leader of the Second Viennese School. It is said that Schönberg had an irrational fear of the number 13, something that had to do with the date of his birth: September 13, 1874. Coincidentally, the composer died on July 13, 1951.

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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