Superstition certainly isn’t all it’s cracked up to be these days – as time has gone on tarot cards, black cats and fortune telling has seen a decline in popularity in cultures and societies all across the globe. Folks simply don’t buy it anymore. Still, holdouts remain in the oddest of places. Astrology is at an all-time high, for one. Alternative medicine and homeopathy are a regular resort for a variety of conditions for another; when Gemini and Virgo are in alignment, drink lime water at noon for a broken heart. Even for those of us who might haughtily consider our brains above such silly things like to keep a toe or two in the water.
Take lucky numbers, for example. Everyone has them, and while they’re not an overt show of the mysterious, they’re very much a thing. Science says so.
Human beings like patterns. We like a natural order to the world, with recognisable design. In other words, chaos free. When it comes to lucky numbers, it can be partly anecdotal. That is to say, you win a raffle once and hold on to the memory. But, if we look at the statistics, some figures hold more sway than others. Science 2.0 has a rundown of the number 7, for example. Seven days, seven sins, seven seas – even seven wonders. TutorMing has a section on the number eight. What’s more interesting than how or why people have lucky numbers, however, is which lucky numbers they have. If you’re in need of some four clover digits, look no further.
Below are some of the popular lucky numbers in the world.
Quick Fire Figures
3: Good things come in threes, after all. The original Star Wars trilogy. The Lord of the Rings. The Three Musketeers. Three is a number heavily ingrained in Western tales and culture, easily grouped and easily chunked into memorable sets. As the song goes, it’s a magic number.
7: Seven is the most popular number around. During the UK Numbers Festival in 2015 (hosted by Newcastle University) over 12.5% of attendees claimed seven as their patron number. Sure that’s a lot, but in another survey conducted by Betway as much as 25% of candidates put their stock in the number! The average is likely somewhere in between. Go figure.
666: The number of the beast might not seem a particularly likely candidate, but a few devilish souls hold out hope.
42: Most popular numbers are quite small. They come in one digit most of the time, with a max of two. 42 is one of the largest there is on a wide scale – suppose we have Douglas Adams to thank for that. It just goes to show that cultures both old and new can stir up superstition in the best of us.
9: Nine rings of power given to men. Nine companions of the fellowship. Nine circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno. Nine is a nice, odd number. It seems random enough to the human brain; indivisible, simple. Great for storytelling. According to 11points, part of its popularity may be due to the number’s presence in Norse mythology, at least in Norway, as there are nine realms in which the old myths take place.
4: Ah, four. Here in the west it’s popular enough, but in China and other neighboring nations the figure carries the weight of age-old superstition. See, in China the word four sounds particularly similar to the word for death. In fact, much of Chinese numerology is built around the sounds of their times tables.
Out to the East
The Asian continent’s perspective on lucky numbers is vastly different to our own – the whole business is about culture, after all! Some of the more prominent digits are four as mentioned above, as well as two, three, five… You get the idea.
2: In China, doubles are a good thing, making two a decidedly lucky number. Businesses are like to repeat words or phrases in their advertising slogans. Decorations come in pairs, with New Year banners placed symmetrically on either side of the door. And so on.
3: The word for three sounds like ‘life’ or the verb for birth. Lucky again.
4: As above, four sounds like death, and nobody really wants that.
5: Five can be both lucky or unlucky given the context. Five is related to the idea of five elements in Chinese herbalism, which is a good thing, but it also sounds similar to the word ‘without.’ And we said superstition was dying out.
A Logical Perspective
From a logical perspective, any number is just as likely (or unlikely) to win you the lottery as any other, be it from China or anywhere else. And now that cultures are easily connected by technology and easily accessible information, we can see that luck is subjective. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that we all like our anecdotal luck, our patterns and our holdfasts. And where’s the harm in that? There isn’t any! So keep on keeping on, and your bingo card will one day reward.