So why is the number 13 lucky for tattooists?

Tattoos being offered in celebration of Friday the 13th has long been an event that collectors have looked forward to, and the tradition being that tattooists will charge £13 for certain tattoos on Friday 13th.  The tattoo of the number 13 is considered a “lucky” symbol, and is often accompanied by other “lucky” symbols this goes back to the days of traditional tattooing but today is still one of the most popular numbers to have tattooed. So, why do tattoo supporters embrace what others fear?

There is a large group of people who consider the number 13 to be unlucky and for some they feel that the day even holds dangers; with Friday the 13th being considered as being the unluckiest day of the year.  Most high-rise buildings will not have a 13th floor, and there could be fateful results if you have 13 guests sat around a dinner table. The Roman numerals Xlll on during a tarot card reading is supposed to denote death.

There are some cultures, however, that see the number 13 it as a symbol of life, fertility, and prosperity. Judaism celebrates a young man’s coming of age when he turns thirteen. In Punjabi, the word 13 is pronounced tera, which also means “yours,” which is a devotional pronouncement to God.  In Hinduism it is the 13th day following a death is the day on which a memorial feast is held for the departed.

There are, as always, many different theories as to why people became so superstitious about the number 13.  The Nordic legend is in regard to the Norse god of mischief, Loki, who was said to be the 13th, and uninvited, guest at a party where he caused the death of Balder the Good. In biblical history, 12 disciples joined Jesus for the Last Supper. Judas, the last and 13th member betrayed Jesus leading to his crucifixion and his death which was on a Friday.  In some ancient European religions, there were 12 good gods and one evil god; the evil god was called the 13th god.  And a meeting of witches, called a Sabbath, requires at least 13 witches along with the other story were witches are claimed to gather in groups (a coven) of twelve and during such ceremonies, the devil would appear as the thirteenth attendee.  Traditionally there should be 13 steps leading up to the gallows. 

So it seems that unlucky symbols as tattoos usually have the reverse meaning and are considered lucky; this is due perhaps to some tattooists and tattoo collectors considering themselves as separated from everyday society.   

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One thought on “So why is the number 13 lucky for tattooists?

  1. Never thought of myself as a tattoo collector. But I like that idea and also like the idea that we consider ourselves separate from everyday society. I always tell folk that its unlucky to be superstitious.

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