The Number 7 Isn't Really That Lucky (and Other Superstitions)
It’s fun to have a favorite number. It might remind you of your favorite baseball player, or make you smile when you look at the clock at a certain time. My lucky number is 3, which I think is a common one, along with 5 and 7. Ah, lucky number 7. In a recent survey, almost 4,000 participants out of 44,000 said 7 was their favorite number. That’s not a ton, but still, they could have chosen any number in the entire world, so I’d say it’s a lot.
Let’s take a closer look at what numbers we prefer, and why. ::pushes glasses up nose:: An experiment done by Marisca Milikowski at the University of Amsterdam suggests that we associate emotions with numbers: even numbers are good, odd numbers are bad. One by Dan King of the National University of Singapore and Chris Janiszewski of the University of Florida suggests people prefer numbers that end in 5 over all other odd numbers.
When it comes down it, we like numbers that are divisible by 2 or 5. It’s true. Have you ever seen your coworker (hi) heat up their lunch, and set the microwave for an obscure number like 55 or 56 (hi) seconds? “It makes me feel better,” they say. So why is 7 our so-called favorite number? It’s neither even nor divisible by 5. My guess is it’s just one of those things: The sky is blue (don’t try to get science-y on me). Walter White is a boss. And 7 is lucky.
We’re also superstitious when it comes to numbers. Here’s a deeper dive into some of the most common superstitions around the world—in order, of course. I apologize in advance if I ruin your favorite number.
4 In China, the pronunciation of the word “4” sounds similar to that of the word for “death.” In other words, they avoid it. It’s treated the same way we treat the number 13 here in the US. It’s said that even cartoon characters with only four fingers are considered bad luck. And when giving gifts in sets, like plates, always give three or five—never four.
9 Much like 4 in China, the word “9” in Japanese sounds similar to the word for torture or suffering. So no, I will not be staying on the 9th floor, thank you.
13 Everyone has that friend who says, “13 is actually my lucky number!” But for the most part in the US, hotels don’t have a 13th floor, airplanes don’t have a 13th row and don’t even get me started on Friday the 13th. Fun fact: the word for people scared of Friday the 13th is friggatriskaidekaphobics. Say that 13 times fast.
17 Forget Friday the 13th, Italians fear Friday the 17th. If you rearrange the Roman numeral XVII, you can create the word “VIXI” which translates from Latin as “my life is over.” Sounds a bit like the 3 degrees of superstitions, but to each their own.
39 Here’s an odd one. To Afghans, the number 39 translates to “mordagow” which means “dead cow,” but is also slang for “pimp.” Either way, Afghans want nothing to do with the number, and avoid it at all costs.
666 Seeing three sixes in a row gives most people the chills. But why? This superstition goes all the way back to the Book of Revelation in the Bible. 666 is the number of the “beast,” and signifies the end of times. So yeah, chills are an appropriate response.
While 3 is my lucky number, I’m (irrationally) afraid of odd numbers. It’s is the only one I can handle; I’m an even number girl, through and through.
What’s your lucky number?
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