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Is 13 the unluckiest number?

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Friday the 13th: It’s not just a schlocky horror movie. Well, it is that, but depending on who you ask, it’s also a day to stay in bed with the covers pulled up over your head lest all kinds of misfortune and disaster befall you. There are two such days in 2013 -- in September and December – and they fall in what certain superstitious folks known as triskaidekaphobes consider the unluckiest year of the century. The poor humble number 13, feared and vilified for centuries. And for what? OK, so Apollo 13 is the only unsuccessful moon mission. And there were 13 people at the Last Supper, and a few other dinner parties that ended badly. Lots of serial killers have 13 letters in their name, it’s true. Oh yes, and good luck finding the 13th floor in most skyscrapers. Never mind that children officially become teenagers at age 13. Now that’s scary. Here are some other reasons the number 13 has gotten such a bad rap.

  • Try riding an elevator up to the 13th floor of Winnipeg's Fairmont Hotel. Wha? 
Otis Elevator estimates that up to 85 per cent of all high-rise buildings lack a 13th floor.
(Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)

    Try riding an elevator up to the 13th floor of Winnipeg's Fairmont Hotel. Wha? Otis Elevator estimates that up to 85 per cent of all high-rise buildings lack a 13th floor. (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)

  • NASA launched the 13th Apollo moon mission at 13:13 hours central time. On The Apollo 13 was launched on April the 13th at 13:13 local time on Pad 39 (3 times 13). Coincidence you say? Pictured is the interior of the lunar module, with the

    U.S. Civilian

    NASA launched the 13th Apollo moon mission at 13:13 hours central time. On The Apollo 13 was launched on April the 13th at 13:13 local time on Pad 39 (3 times 13). Coincidence you say? Pictured is the interior of the lunar module, with the "Mailbox" a jerry-rigged oxygen filter system put together using duct tape and a part from one of the abandoned modules. An explosion in another module thwarted the mission’s intended lunar landing and inspired the second-most-famous phrase in the history of space exploration: “Houston, we have a problem.” Image courtesy of NASA

  • His name is Jason Voorhees (13 letters, count ’em) but you might know him as the poster boy for paraskevidekatriaphobia. The term refers to a morbid fear of Friday the 13th, and like many human beliefs, it’s not exactly grounded in scientific logic. None of that matters, of course, when you’re being chased by a machete-wielding dude in a goalie mask who doesn’t know when to stop making sequels.
AP Photo / Paramount

    CP

    His name is Jason Voorhees (13 letters, count ’em) but you might know him as the poster boy for paraskevidekatriaphobia. The term refers to a morbid fear of Friday the 13th, and like many human beliefs, it’s not exactly grounded in scientific logic. None of that matters, of course, when you’re being chased by a machete-wielding dude in a goalie mask who doesn’t know when to stop making sequels. AP Photo / Paramount

  • He played in four playoff games and two Grey Cups, but because the Saskatchewan Roughriders can’t count, retired linebacker Sean Lucas will forever be known in CFL folklore as the 13th man who broke the hearts of Rider Nation. Lucas was the extra player on the field when Montreal Alouettes kicker missed a 43-yard field goal as time expired, seemingly giving Saskatchewan the win. Nuh-uh. Duval got a second chance and, suffice it to say the 13th Man incident cost the club the 2009 championship.
(Leah Hennel / Canwest News Service)

    CNS Canwest News Service

    He played in four playoff games and two Grey Cups, but because the Saskatchewan Roughriders can’t count, retired linebacker Sean Lucas will forever be known in CFL folklore as the 13th man who broke the hearts of Rider Nation. Lucas was the extra player on the field when Montreal Alouettes kicker missed a 43-yard field goal as time expired, seemingly giving Saskatchewan the win. Nuh-uh. Duval got a second chance and, suffice it to say the 13th Man incident cost the club the 2009 championship. (Leah Hennel / Canwest News Service)

  • In Leonardo da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper, Judas (left wearing blue and green) holds a small bag, some speculate it is filled with the silver he earned for betraying Jesus. As the 13th guest at the Last Supper, he is the personification of bad turncoats according to the Romans.

    In Leonardo da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper, Judas (left wearing blue and green) holds a small bag, some speculate it is filled with the silver he earned for betraying Jesus. As the 13th guest at the Last Supper, he is the personification of bad turncoats according to the Romans.

  • Is Winnipeg Jets' Kyle Wellwood (13) suffering a streak of bad luck? Has he scored this year? Do we really need to say anything else?
THE CANADIAN PRESS / John Woods

    CP

    Is Winnipeg Jets' Kyle Wellwood (13) suffering a streak of bad luck? Has he scored this year? Do we really need to say anything else? THE CANADIAN PRESS / John Woods

  • Left to right; Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and a composite of Jack the Ripper. All bad men. Their names also all have THIRTEEN letters in them.

    Postmedia

    Left to right; Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and a composite of Jack the Ripper. All bad men. Their names also all have THIRTEEN letters in them.

  • There are also thirteen letters in fraudster, Bernard Madoff.
Bloomberg News photo by Jin Lee

    Bloomberg BLOOMBERG

    There are also thirteen letters in fraudster, Bernard Madoff. Bloomberg News photo by Jin Lee

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