Lucky Number 13

This post is part of a series for AbsoluteWrite’s January 2013 blog chain. The theme is “13” in honor of the new year. 

In a recent episode of Elementary (the great new Sherlock Holmes series on CBS), Holmes deduces a man was a gambler with a penchant for mahjong because of his obsession with the number 13. He explains that the number 13, in Chinese culture, is considered a lucky number.

This was news to me. I’ve talked with students before about lucky and unlucky numbers in China. Of course, I’ve told them that 13 is unlucky in America, but they have never told me that, conversely, 13 was lucky in China. 3,6, and especially 8 are the numbers they always quote as lucky. So I did some research to find out more about this lucky number 13.

I actually found…very little. Most articles that claimed to be about the number 13 being lucky actually talked about the number 8. The number 8 is the most lucky in Chinese culture. Phone numbers with 8’s in them are always snatched up quickly (phone companies always put out special signs when they get new phone numbers in that have an 8 in them) and dates with 8’s in them (like 08-08-2008, the first day of the Beijing Olympics) are always considered auspicious. I was only to find a couple of references to 13 being lucky. Basically, “13” in Chinese sounds like the words for “assured growth” or “definitely vibrant.” But, this seems to be the least of the lucky numbers, something you would only want if 3, 6, 8, or 9 were already taken.

But, more important, is knowing the unluckiest number in Chinese culture. The Chinese do avoid the number 4 like the plague. “4” sounds like “death,” so any number or combination of numbers containing the number 4 are considered evil. Many high-end hotels in large cities will not have floors 13 or 14 to accommodate both Chinese and Western superstitions.

Other Blog Chain Participants:
orion_mk3 – (link to post)
Ralph Pines – (link to post)
SRHowen – (link to post)
areteus – (link to post)
angyl78 – (link to post)
randi.lee – (link to post)
ConnieBDowell – (link to post)
writingismypassion – (link to post)
Araevno – (link to post)
Briony-zisaya – (link to post)
Kewii – (link to post)
katci13 – (link to post)
MsLaylaCakes: (link to post)
HistorySleuth – (link to post)