Re: Why 13?

Dick Eney (
25 Jul 1995 16:38:39 -0400

In article <3v2l8d$>,
Orjan Smith <> wrote:
>In article, (Stephanie A. Hall) writes:
>|This started with a discussion about the months didn't it? I think I may
>|be jumping in in the middle but --
>|As I recall, early recorded instances of 13 being considered unlucky
>|were associated with the belief that if you invite 13 people to dinner,
>|one will die before the year is out. This may be by association with the
>|Last Supper (Jesus + the disciples = 13) -- or from an even older source
>|in Norse Mythology. The Norse Gods held a banquet to which 12 were
>|invited. Loki (#13) was not invited but showed up. A fight broke out and
>|Baldur was killed.
>An even older source? The Norse (Scandinavian, actually) mythology(religion)
>you are referring to is from a much later date than the Bible. This particular
>story is most likely from sometime around the 8th century.
Whenever it's from, it's wrong. The wrangling at the feast (told in the
_Lokasenna_) is not connected with the death of Baldur, who was killed
during a session of target practice when Loki slipped Baldur's brother,
Hodur, a missile made out of Mistletoe, the one thing that hadn't taken
an oath not to harm Baldur.

>But, I do agree that the belief that thirteen people round a table means bad
>fortune is older than the bible.
It has, and to my mind more plausibly, been traced to the Romans'
interior decorating habits. At _cena_ three four-person couches were
arranged around the table -- the fourth side was left open for the
service. The ranking individual got the "consul's position" -- near the
door, where messengers could bring messages to him without walking
through the guests. And a thirteenth guest would have been very
inconvenient to place at a twelve-seat banquet.

|----------Dick Eney (|
|If you think the system isn't working, ask someone who is|