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Triskaidekaphobia (from Greek tris meaning "3", kai meaning "and", deka meaning "10" and phobia meaning "fear" or "morbid fear") is fear of the number 13; it is a superstition and related to a specific fear of Friday the 13th, called paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia.
There is a myth that the earliest reference to thirteen being unlucky or evil is from the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (circa 1780 BCE), where the thirteenth law is 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.
Some Christian traditions have it that at the Last Supper, Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table. However, the Bible itself says nothing about the order at which the Apostles sat. Also, the number 13 is not uniformly bad in the Judeo-Christian tradition. For example, the attributes of God (also called the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy) are enumerated in the Torah (Exodus 34:6–7). Some modern Christian churches also use 13 attributes of God in sermons.
Triskaidekaphobia may have also affected the Vikings—it is believed that Loki in the Norse pantheon was the 13th god—more specifically, Loki was believed to have engineered the murder of Balder, and was the 13th guest to arrive at the funeral. This is perhaps related to the superstition that if 13 people gather, one of them will die in the following year. Some French aristocrats would hire themselves out as the fourteenth diner at an event, because it was believed that when thirteen diners sat together, one of them would later die. Another Norse tradition involves the myth of Norna-Gest: when the uninvited norns showed up at his birthday celebration—thus increasing the number of guests from ten to thirteen—the norns cursed the infant by magically binding his lifespan to that of a mystic candle they presented to him.
Ancient Persians believed the twelve constellations in the Zodiac controlled the months of the year, and each ruled the earth for a thousand years at the end of which the sky and earth collapsed in chaos. Therefore, the number is identified with chaos and the reason Persians leave their houses to avoid bad luck on the thirteenth day of the Persian Calendar, a tradition called Sizdah Bedar.
In 1881 an influential group of New Yorkers led by U.S. Civil War veteran Captain William Fowler came together to put an end to this and other superstitions. They formed a dinner cabaret club, which they called the Thirteen Club. At the first meeting, on Friday 13 January 1881 at 8:13 p.m., 13 people sat down to dine in room 13 of the venue. The guests walked under a ladder to enter the room and were seated among piles of spilled salt. Many Thirteen Clubs sprang up all over North America for the next 40 years. Their activities were regularly reported in leading newspapers, and their numbers included five future U.S. presidents, from Chester A. Arthur to Theodore Roosevelt. Thirteen Clubs had various imitators, but they all gradually faded from interest.
Vehicle License plates in the Republic of Ireland are such that the first two digits represent the year of registration of the vehicle (i.e. 11 is a 2011 registered car, 12 is 2012 and so on). In late 2012 there were concerns among members of SIMI (Society of the Irish Motor Industry) that the prospect of having "13" registered vehicles may discourage motorists from buying new cars due to superstition surrounding the number thirteen and that car sales and the motor industry, (which is already ailing) would suffer as a result. This concern prompted SIMI to approach the Government of the State and request that 2013 registered vehicles have their license plates age identifier string modified to read "131" for vehicles registered in the first six months of 2013 and "132" for those registered in the latter six months of the year. As of August 2012 the government, bearing in mind the potential loss in VRT (Vehicle Registration Tax) revenue on new cars, are considering the proposal for implementation. When the proposal was released to the media on 25 August, it was met with mixed reception.
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