Get Gephardt | Stories - Good Question: Why Is 13 Said To Be Unlucky?
Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
Good Question: Why Is 13 Said To Be Unlucky?
By Matt Gephardt
(KUTV) This question came to me from Angie. Angie says that on Monday night, as she and her friends were counting down to the New Year she saw the number 13 just about everywhere she looked ... As in 2013.

She points out that it could be a tough year for those suffering with a fear of the number. So she asks, why is13 so worrisome?

At the Hotel Monaco in Downtown Salt Lake City they are well aware of the superstition. The hotel, built in 1920, is 14 stories tall. But according to the elevator panel there are 15 stories. That’s because the hotel skipped the number 13 when assigning floors and they skip every 13th room.

Stefanie Dean is a manager at the hotel. She points out that her hotel is not alone in skipping the number 13 for superstitious reasons.

"About 80% of the buildings don't have 13 floors,” she said.

Fear of the number 13 is a real thing. In fact it has a name: triskaidekaphobia. No one knows for certain exactly when the fear was first realized but there are plenty of ancient examples of 13 being unlucky.

Some Christian traditions say that at the last supper, Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table.

It was a Friday the 13 in the 12th century when the Knights Templar were arrested and killed by the king of France.

And the earliest accounts of triskaidekaphobia I could find belong to ancient Persians. They believed the twelve constellations in the zodiac took turns controlling the earth. After the 12th, the sky and earth would collapse.

In present-day Utah, staff at the Hotel Monaco are embracing the superstition. They even posted a blog, "13 reasons why we are Salt Lake City's guilty pleasure hotel" on their Facebook page.

Stefanie on the other hand, thinks the number gets a bad rap, saying she has liked the number for as long as she can remember.

"I always have liked the number 13,” she said. “It's a number that everyone was afraid of and didn't like so I was like, I'm going to like it. It needs a friend. And I've just always liked it."

The superstition can be damaging to other businesses. Many people affected by triskaidekaphobia won’t do business on the 13th day in a month or travel which impacts those industries bottom lines.

Thank you, Angie, for the Good Question. If you have a Good Question for me, call (801) 839-1250 or you can email me at

(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)
Good Question: Why Is 13 Said To Be Unlucky?

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