07/07/07: Is This Your Lucky Day?

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Those superstitious types who freaked out last year when the calendar read 06/06/06 will have something to smile about on the 7th day of the 7th month, 2007.

Believing the triple appearance of the number 7 will bring luck, many people are planning important events for this first Saturday in July. Brides and grooms, especially, looking for a little extra dose of marital fortune, are flocking to the altar in droves on 07/07/07, according to wedding watchers.

If they only knew what the Chinese were thinking.

The number seven is considered lucky due to its frequent and favorable appearance in the Bible, say historians.

"As the number of the days of God's first week, of the levels of heaven…of the numbers of angels and trumpets, etc., the number came in the last few centuries BCE to represent divine perfection," said David Frankfurter, professor of religious studies and history at the University of New Hampshire. "Something organized seven-fold meant that it corresponded to God's own arrangement."

Numbers control our fate?

Just as some people wouldn't dare get married on a Friday the 13th or live in a house with the address 666, believing in the positive influence of the number seven is just another technique humans use to have some jurisdiction over the chaotic world around them, said Frankfurter.

“In our modern American society we have a tendency to look for magical ways to control the world or fate, so numerology is especially important for us,” Frankfurter said.

The obsession with numerology—and other para-sciences like astrology—tends to get stronger especially during significant life events like marriages, he added. "It represents Americans' rather weak (compared to Asian cultures') attempt to exert some numerical or calendrical control over important life-cycle, transition, or other crisis situations," Frankfurter told LiveScience.

Seven not lonely in luck

Trying to find meaning in numbers is a practice that goes back to ancient times, say historians, and doesn't begin and end with 6, 7 and 13.

There are many other numbers in the Bible that were thought to have sacred meanings, said Frankfurter, including twelve (for the tribes of Israel and the zodiac), five (books of Moses) and four (archangels, gospels).

Lucky numbers also vary from culture to culture, proving, skeptics say, that coincidental connections between an event and the influence of a number can always be found if you're looking hard enough, no matter what the digit.

Chinese culture, for example, associates "degrees" of luck according to how a number is pronounced. Eight, whose Chinese name rhymes with the words for prosperity and wealth, is considered particularly auspicious. The Beijing Olympics, as a result, will open next year at 8 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2008.

Oh, and many Chinese consider 7 a very unlucky number associated with death. Don’t tell the brides.

Heather Whipps
Heather Whipps writes about history, anthropology and health for Live Science. She received her Diploma of College Studies in Social Sciences from John Abbott College and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from McGill University, both in Quebec. She has hiked with mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and is an avid athlete and watcher of sports, particularly her favorite ice hockey team, the Montreal Canadiens. Oh yeah, she hates papaya.