The Hebrew word for "life" is חי (chai), which has a numerical value of 18. Consequently, the custom has arisen in Jewish circles to give donations and monetary gifts in multiples of 18 as an expression of blessing for long life.
Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22 was originally named Catch-18 because of the Hebrew meaning of the number, but was amended to the published title to avoid confusion with another war novel, Mila 18.
There are 18 chapters in the Bhagavad Gita, which is contained in the Mahabharata, which has 18 books. The Kurukshetra War which the epic depicts, is between 18 armies (11 on the Kuru side, 7 on the Pandava). The war itself lasts for 18 days. In the other Hindu epic, the Ramayana, the war between Rama and the demons also lasted 18 days.
It is also the age of sexual consent under U.S. federal law (although this law only applies in circumstances involving transportation or transaction between different states or outside the United States).
In addition, Pennsylvania has a corruption of minors law that makes the de facto age of consent there 18. This is also the case in some jurisdictions outside the United States, including Canada.
^N James. The Early Composition History of Catch-22. In Biographies of Books: The Compositional Histories of Notable American Writings, J Barbour, T Quirk (edi.) pp. 262-90. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1996
^CANADA'S LEGAL AGE OF CONSENT TO SEXUAL ACTIVITY Revised 12 April 2001: "Section 153 now prohibits "sexual interference" or "invitation to sexual touching," in respect of a young person over 14 but under 18, where the accused is in a relationship of trust or authority towards the complainant or the complainant is in a relationship of dependency with the accused."