Today is Friday the 13th — a day considered unlucky by superstitious people in the Western world. It is a bit of a cultural phenomenon, because ask any young person WHY Friday the 13th is unlucky and they will probably scratch their heads. Horror movies have been made about the date and blood and gore flicks are often released on Friday 13th to capitalize on the connotation. But do I know or care about the history? As a skeptic of just about anything, it doesnt bother me in the least. But if you really want to know why Friday 13th is considered unlucky, you can read about it on Wikepedia.
Chinese people of course do not consider this day to be an unlucky one, but there are many, many, MANY unlucky or ill-fortuned dates in Chinese culture. Many people don’t make major decisions about birth, death, getting married, moving, or buying a home until they have consulted a Chinese fortune teller who will check the calendar and determine which day is most auspicious.
Funnily enough, a Welsh friend of mine here in Hong Kong proposed to his Chinese girlfriend, and they chose a wedding day a few months in advance that they thought would be a good time. But when they told her parents, they were horrified that they had not consulted the fortune teller about the date. The plan was scrapped and the fortune teller was consulted. And which day did the fortune teller choose as the most auspicious day for the couple to get married? FRIDAY THE 13TH. My Welsh friend found this quite ironic.
Because in the Chinese language the pronunciation of some numbers also corresponds to the pronunciation of certain words, there are numbers which are lucky and numbers which are bad luck. Without a doubt the worst number of all is 4, because the word for ‘four’ sounds too close to the word for ‘death’. As a result, many high rises skip out the number 4. Some buildings for example do not have a 4th floor. Our last building skipped out the 4th, 14th, 24th, 34th, 44th (most definitely the 44th — double death!), and 54th floors. This is why sometimes it is a lie when a building developed claims the building is 88 stories high!
The number 8 is the most lucky number because it sounds like the word for wealth/prosperity. People try to jam as many 8s into their numbers as possible. For example when you buy a SIM card and get a new number, the numbers that have one or more 8s in them sell for a little bit more, and you can choose which one you want. Starting something on the 8th of the month is good. Having 8s in your license plate is good — the more the merrier. Being born on the 8th of August is particularly good. The Beijing Olympics were launched on 08-08-08. Triple luck!
Anyway, in short, just try to remember that 4 = bad, 8 = good.
Makes me wonder though whether April 8th is a good or bad day?