From the first day that man began to study numbers and their significance in every day life, some numbers have been assigned certain characteristics. Some numbers have been thought to be lucky, while others are considered unlucky. And it’s not just Western culture that has done this.
Cultures in Japan, China, India and Africa have done the exact same thing, but for different reasons. Let’s take a look at some commonly known lucky and unlucky numbers to see why some numbers are cursed and some are loved.
- 7 – Everyone knows that 7 is lucky. But why? The root of most lucky numbers can be found in religion. God, for instance, is said to have created the world in 7 days. There are also several references to seven in other places in the bible, like the length of festivals and the arrangement of the Sabbath. Seven also comes up repeatedly in ancient history. Until the 1800’s, there were seven known planets in the solar system, mathematician Pythagoreans considered seven to be the perfect number and as any craps player can tell you, seven is the most desirable role on the dice. In most major instances, seven is a lucky number from culture to culture. Seven is even the usual number of spots on a ladybug. Lady bugs are considered good luck in their own right.
- 4 – This number is bad luck in the far east. The pronunciation of the number four in Japanese is very similar to the word death, and because of this, four has been considered bad luck in Japan, Korea and China. It is considered very bad luck to give a gift that is made up of four pieces to someone. Many buildings in heavily Asian areas do not have a fourth floor, much like the way North American cultures treat the number 13. In Western culture, four isn’t necessarily considered lucky or unlucky, however, there are a few unlucky fours. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Christian bible, and most swear words are called “four letter words.
- 666 – Six hundred and sixty-six is an interesting number. It is both extremely bad luck in Western culture but very good luck in many Asian cultures. As everyone knows, according to the Christian bible, 666 is the number of the beast and is synonymous with Satan. 666 might actually be the most avoided number in Western culture, followed closely by the number 13. But in cultures in Asia, the pronunciation of 666 sounds very much like the phrase, “things going smoothly,” and it is considered to be very lucky. Many shopkeepers will place a sign or plaque with 666 written or carved on it in their window as a good luck charm. The same goes for the front door of a home or apartment. In Western culture, 666 has appeared millions of times, almost universally in a bad connotation.
- 13 – The hysteria surrounding unlucky 13 in Western culture has become so commonplace that an actual sickness called triskaidekaphobia; the fear of the number 13. You would be hard pressed to find a building with a 13th floor in North America. The origin of this superstition is mainly unknown. In the famous painting of Jesus at the Last Supper, the 13th person at the table, reading left to right, was Judas, who betrayed Jesus. Others believe it is because of the tie-in with 13 and the lunar cycle. 13 is the exact number of full moons in a calendar year, and since people have thought that the moon controls emotion and makes people a bit crazy, then 13 is bad luck. In many Persian cultures, 13 is unlucky as well, showing that this superstition crosses cultural borders. And of course, Friday the 13th is considered very bad luck. It originates from the massacre of the Knight’s Templar on that date in 1307.
- 2 – In many Asian cultures, two is good luck. It is thought that good things come in pairs, which is a phrase that even appears in Western culture. It is used often in advertising or on menus in restaurants by saying that a product is doubly effective or it will bring double happiness. In Cantonese, the number two is pronounced much like the word easy, hence it is considered good luck there, as well. There is an emphasis on the number two in Western culture, as well, but not relating to luck.
- 8 – Maybe no culture in the world is more fascinated with lucky numbers than the Chinese. In many far eastern cultures, 8 is considered a lucky number to the point of obsession. A recent news article reported that the phone number 8888-8888 was sold for over $200,000 in China recently because it was thought that it would bring luck. In Cantonese, the pronunciation of the number eight is similar to the phrase “good luck.”
- 11 – Craps players know that 7 goes hand in hand with 11. In numerology, 11 is the first master number. In recent years, 11 has taken on a negative significance due to the events of September 11th, 2001 and the flight number of one of the doomed planes was American Airlines Flight 11.
Trying to figure out what your lucky numbers are is a personal decision. You may embrace historically unlucky numbers in an attempt to buck the trend. You may have a completely random number come up again and again in your life that proves to be lucky. Whichever method you choose, numbers can make a big difference in your life if we could just figure out their proper meaning.
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