Though there's no science to back up numerology, the fact that many humans put stock in certain number patterns may be hard-wired.
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Today's date — at least when it's written out numerically as 11/12/13 — may hold some meaning for numerologists and New Age adherents attracted to the supposed energies and positive vibes of the sequential string.
In reality, Nov. 12, 2013, is nothing special. Perhaps it's only notable for spawning a midweek blitz of weddings or a rush to buy lucky lotto tickets, or being a good day for Count von Count. (This morning, Sesame Street tweeted a message from the vampire Muppet: "11! 12! 13! What a wonderful day! Ah ah ah!")
A David's Bridal survey estimated that more than 3,000 brides would get married today across the United States — a 722 percent increase compared with this Tuesday last year. [The Surprising Origins of 9 Common Superstitions]
"Iconic dates have become a trend in the United States, reaching new heights when over 65,000 couples tied the knot on 07/07/07," Brian Beitler, chief marketing officer for David's Bridal, said in a statement. "11/12/13 is a sequential pattern, and we have learned that couples love dates that have patterns."
In this century, there will be one more sequential date like today's, and it will occur next year, on 12/13/14.
"It falls on a Saturday, so we predict this date could reach record-breaking numbers," Beitler added.
As Beitler noted, excitement over sequential dates and dates with repeated numbers is nothing new. The Beijing Olympics began at exactly 8:08:08 p.m. local time on 08/08/08 — and that example perhaps illustrates the cultural relativism of auspicious numbers. The Chinese name for eight rhymes with the word for wealth and is considered to be a particularly lucky number.
Today's date indeed doesn't hold the same meaning in other parts of the world. More than 400 years ago, Pope Gregory XIII established the Gregorian calendar that makes today 11/12/13. According to the Jewish calendar, today is also the 9th of Kislev, 5774, and the Iranian calendar puts us at the 21st of Aban, 1392.
It might be easy to dismiss the enthusiasm about 11/12/13, but superstitions about numbers and dates are steeped in tradition. Though the origins of Friday the 13th are murky, the number and the day were thought to be harbingers of bad fortune by the Middle Ages; there's even a name for fear of Friday the 13th (paraskavedekatriaphobia). In the Bible's Book of Revelation, 666 is "the number of the beast" and is often interpreted as the mark of Satan; even today, seeing a string of three sixes spooks some people.
Research has suggested that seeing patterns is perhaps only natural.
"Cognitive scientists have demonstrated that our brains are hard-wired to look for meaningful patterns in the sensory data it collects from the world," Alan Lenzi, a professor of religious studies at University of the Pacific, told LiveScience in 2011, speaking about 1/11/11.
"Numbers that are already significant to us, such as calendar dates, that also coincidentally fall into an obvious pattern become doubly significant," Lenzi added, "Given the propensity for people to look for significance in particular days and times (e.g. the 'end of the world'), patterns are easily imbued with imaginative meaning."