Superstitions are something many people grow up with, from not opening umbrellas inside to not stepping on cracks in the road, but how do superstitions vary around the world? Ladbrokes has been doing some research into the significance that numbers have for other cultures, with these being five of the most interesting:
China – 0
In China, the number 0 carries particular superstitious significance for those, such as students, who regularly have to sit tests or examinations as part of their lives. It has led to the belief that anyone preparing for such an exam should refrain from eating eggs ahead of it, because eggs have the same shape as a zero, and thus eating them will cause you to score zero. This superstition still persists to this day.
Japan – 4
This is a particularly bleak superstition, with the number four in Japan being associated with death – and thus considered an unlucky number. The origins of this particular superstition can perhaps be traced to the fact that one Japanese word for four is shi and this is also a word meaning death. Of all the superstitions listed here this one remains particularly prevalent in modern day Japan, with many of the country’s urban office blocks not having fourth floors because of it.
Italy – 7
Italy – to be precise Ancient Rome – was the birthplace of one of the most well-known superstitions: that of the broken mirror leading to seven years bad luck. It is not known precisely how this particular one got started, but it is unusual in having spread far beyond its origins – with most people now being aware of it, and it remains a superstition many believe.
Of course, not all of the superstitions in the cultural roulette from Ladbrokes are negative, and in Thailand the number nine is considered a lucky one. This is part of a general belief that odd numbers hold greater luck than even ones, particularly number three. Nine gets its special status partly because it is 3 x 3, but also because ‘gao’ – which means ‘three’ in Thai – is similar sounding to the Thai words for progress and rice (insert 3 here). It is still upheld there, with the Minister of Transport having paid $95,000 for 9999 license plate.
England – 1
We have our own number-related superstitions, with the number one carrying some particularly ominous baggage. It was traditionally viewed as an unlucky omen to witness a single magpie, with the origin perhaps being traceable to the nursery rhyme bearing the lyric ‘one for sorrow’ – but unlike some of the others in this article and the Ladbrokes list , it is largely forgotten now.
As you see, every country has its own unique culture and traditions, which these superstitions are a part of.