Posted by: Jack Henry | November 10, 2021

Lucky 13

In our discussion of numbers, 13 gets its own day, because while it is considered unlucky in some cultures, it is special in other cultures. I particularly like the symbolism from the Great Seal of the United States of America—something I don’t recall learning in school. The information in blue text is mine, the information in black text is primarily from The Meaning of Numbers Among Different Cultures.


In many countries around the world…the number 13 is considered an unlucky number.

Many believe that number 12 is a complete number, relating it to the zodiac signs and the apostles. Number association might be the reason why many cultures try to avoid number 13.

Tall buildings use different methods to name the 13th floor. The fear extends to manufacturers and companies. People avoid having 13 guests to their party or event and Friday the 13th for many is very unlucky.

There is no accepted proof that the number 13 is unlucky, but it remains a sign of bad luck due to traditional beliefs. For example, in The Last Supper, the 12 apostles were gathered around Jesus, thus there were 13 people around the table. The members of the Knights Templar were ordered arrested by King Philip IV of France on October 13, 1307, which fell on a Friday. [KC – That’s for you, Ms. Michaels.]

However, other countries and organizations are not wary of this number.

  • The Italians consider it a lucky number, as it is associated with Saint Anthony, who is the patron saint of finding lost people and things.
  • Colgate University in Hamilton, New York significantly honors number 13 as the university was founded by 13 men with a capital of $13.
  • A baker’s dozen is actually made up of 13 pieces.
  • The United States
    • Was formed from the 13 British colonies in the mainland
    • Has a flag with 13 stripes (7 red stripes and 6 white stripes)
    • Has a Great Seal with 13 stars
      • The chest shield in front of the eagle has 13 stripes.
      • The eagle’s left talon holds 13 arrows (weapons of war)
      • The eagle’s right talon holds 13 olive leaves (symbol of peace)
      • The scroll of the national motto “E Pluribus Unum” that the eagle holds in its beak has 13 letters
      • The back of the seal, has an unfinished pyramid with 13 levels

The Great Seal of the USA (front and back)

And to all of the veterans out there—thank you for your service. Enjoy your day off tomorrow!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her

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