Many people, if pressed, might admit to a preference for one number and an aversion to another. This can be based on purely personal reasons, for example birth dates of loved ones. However, there are some numbers which crop up consistently as ones to seek or to avoid. Curiously, numbers which are considered to bring good fortune in some cultures are the very numbers which are portents of bad fortune in others. So, choose your numbers carefully according to where you live!
The Number 4
In many Far Eastern countries, including China, Japan and North Korea, the number four is considered seriously unlucky. This is largely attributable to the word for the unfortunate number sounding the same as, or very similar to, the word for ‘death’. The fourth floor of buildings may often be missed out in the numbering of floors. People may avoid giving four items in a gift. There is even a word for the fear of the number four: Tetraphobia.
In some parts of Europe, the four-leafed clover signifies a better reputation for the number. In Ireland, Germany and Iceland, the rare four-leafed foliage is considered to be a lucky find.
The Number 7
This really is a popular number, being considered lucky across cultures, religions and countries. Perhaps this relates back to ancient times, when only seven planets were visible to the naked eye, making seven a significant number. Many ancient belief systems were based on seven deities, relating to these planets. In more recent Christianity, the Bible states the world was created in six days, with the seventh (Sabbath) the day of rest. Gamblers, perhaps more financially concerned with numbers, know that three sevens make a blackjack and a large payout on a slot machine.
In China, however, the number has a two-sided reputation. In terms of language, the word for seven sounds like ‘start’ or ‘rise, which can be seen as positive concepts. It is also considered lucky in relationships. However, the seventh month is known as the Month of Ghosts, when it is believed ghosts can rise from hell to visit earth.
The Number 8
In India, eight is thought to be unlucky, along with numbers whose digits add up to eight. The number relates to a Hindu deity, Sani (or Shani) who is known as an angry, vengeful character and a bringer of bad luck.
In contrast, the number is the most important lucky number in Chinese tradition. The word for eight is similar in sound to the word for ‘prosper’. Multiples of eight are also lucky, especially eighty-eight which is similar in appearance to the word for ‘double happiness’. Because of its associations with success in wealth, it is viewed as very important by businesses and financial institutions.
The number 13
There are many theories to explain why this number is considered unlucky in Western parts of the world in particular. One reason may be that, in Christianity, the thirteenth disciple at the Last Supper was Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. Interestingly, pre-Christianity, in Norse mythology the god of mischief, Loki, crashed a dinner party, making himself the thirteenth guest and another reason thirteen for dinner is deemed unlucky!
The number has a better reputation, however, in Italy. It represents Saint Anthony, the patron saint of finding lost items and lost people.