Friday, August 8, 2008

A red letter day: 8-8-8

You don't have to be superstitious to enjoy the fact that today is the 8th day of the 8th month of the 8th year of the century. But it helps, and it's anticipated that many thousands of Chinese couples will marry today. 8 is a tremendously lucky number in Chinese culture and of course it's no accident that China chose to launch the Olympics today, at 8.8.8 pm on the 8.8.8.

(OK OK - it's the 9th year of the Century, depending on how you count these things, but let's not have that argument now - you know what I mean - the year number has an 8 in it.)

Having lived in Asia, in a Chinese-influenced culture, I couldn't help being impressed by the predilection for 8 and the horror of the number popularly considered unlucky (the number 4). Many buildings didn't have a 4th floor - they moved from 3a to 3b, to 5. (Which is not unlike the Western custom of trying to avoid a 13th floor.)

Apparently in India many couples have tried to fine tune their baby's birth for 8/8/8.

Of course you don't have to think 8/8/8 is lucky to think it's cool. It is a palindrome (a word or phrase that reads the same backwards as forwards), and it's a rare and special thing for anyone even slightly geekily inclined.

So please have a happy 8/8/8, however you choose to spend it. I will probably watch the grand opening ceremony, because I really like live TV extravaganzas. I can take or leave the actual sporting events. I'd rather read a good book.

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