"Why is it thirteen right now?" My daughter asks confused, using this typical saying, because I'm almost out of my skin.
Why does it actually strike thirteen?
Of course, it makes me really upset. "Why is it thirteen and not fourteen?" She wants to know.
"Well, because our clock is only up to twelve," I say something unimaginative. I explain to her that it expresses that someone overshoots the target, spans the bow. And since that's the thirteen at the clock, because it only progresses at twelve-hour intervals, it's the thirteen.
Why it beats thirteen, but certainly has something to do with the number thirteen itself. Because that applies regardless of many cultures as an unlucky number. And when it beats thirteen, a misfortune happens!
The Thirteen is really the stepchild of all numbers. In some hotel rooms, there is no room number thirteen, sometimes the thirteenth floor is missing, and Friday, the thirteenth, is anyway a day when it's best to stay in bed.
Why it beats thirteen also expresses that someone is going to do something very negative. It's a threat. The number twelve, on the other hand, is positively occupied: twelve disciples, twelve tribes of Israel, etc.
So it has a lot to do with religion. The holy numbers three (Trinity) and four (four gospels) also make twelve. The thirteen is always outside. Even in our hours and months, we have a twelve-time rhythm.
Maybe the Thirteen is discredited! Incidentally, thirteen has only hit it since the nineteenth century. So it's a pretty new idiom.