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4:44 - an inauspicious start to the day

By Murray Bourne, 10 Jun 2006

I often wake at odd hours - especially if I am really busy at work, or something bad happens.

This morning I woke in the midst of a bad dream at 4:44 am. For many Asian cultures, 4 is not a good number, since it is reminiscent of death and is regarded as unlucky.

In Japanese, "shi" (å››) means "4" while "shi" - same pronunciation - (æ­») means "death". It's the same deal in Chinese & Korean, which is not surprising.

Interestingly, in the Chinese Teochew dialect, 4 sounds like "happiness", so the Teochews will snap up houses with the number 4 in their address. Such houses will always be cheap, if they exist at all.

Superstitious numbers occur in most cultures. For the West, 13 is unlucky, and Friday the 13th has particular significance. There are several theories around for the origin of this, but the accepted one is that on Friday 13th Oct 1307, the King of France, Philip IV (who was also the pope), carried out his secret death warrant against the Knights Templar. Yep, the ones talked about in the book, The da Vinci Code. It was an unlucky day indeed for the Grand Master, Jacques DeMolay, since he was burned at the stake. Ah, the Christian church - ya gotta love 'em.

Last week was significant for numerologists.The number 666, or sign of the beast, comes from the last book of the Bible, Revelations. The remake of the movie, The Omen was released on 6 June 2006 (or 6-6-06). Somebody should tell them that we are not 2006 years from Christ's birth (now generally regarded as either 4 BC or 6 BC) and it was only 6 June because in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII decreed that the 10 days from 4th October 1582 to 15 October 1582 should be dropped. Why? Because the Julian calendar they were following before did not allow for leap years and they had gained an unwanted 10 days. This new calendar was called the Gregorian calendar, and is in use in the West to this day. (Not everyone changed to the new calendar straight away. The Protestant countries in particular didn't want to play. The Greek orthodox countries didn't change until the start of this century.)

Wanting to end on a happy note, let's talk about good numbers. For most of Asia, 8 is a lucky number, and repeated eights are especially good. So a lot of sale prices in Singapore are like $4288 or similar.

In the West, 7 is usually regarded as a lucky number. This is most likely because it was orginally a Hebrew special number, and is used extensively in the old testament of the Bible (God made the world in 6 days and on the 7th he rested, etc).

Happy 10th June. Nothing too scary there, I hope.

Update (13June06): It happened again this morning - the first time I looked at the clock it was 4:44. Now, if I was superstitious...

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