Monday, January 05, 2009

Did 2008 disprove the luckiness of the number 8?

I'm sure I wasn't the only bbc who back in January had high hopes for the auspicious-sounding year 2008. And look what happened! The credit crunch has certainly proved one thing: Chinese number superstitions mean diddly-squat when you're in the West.

But surely it's a different story in China, the home of blessed and cursed numerals? Well, not exactly. Economically, China - the country with the world's biggest foreign currency reserves - does look set to suffer less than the West during these tough economic times. But in an age where nations' economies are intertwined and interdependent, who knows what will happen? China is seeing an increase in civil unrest due to factory closures and unpaid wages as export orders shrink and competition amongst fellow Chinese companies intensifies.

Article: Chinese manufacturing shrinks in December
Article: Growing signs of workers’ unrest in China

However, the country as a whole is probably more resilient, economically, than many countries in the West. In that sense, the number 8 could be said to be still working its old feng shui magic, just about.

Apart from the economy, though, it has been a rocky year for China. On 25/1/08 massive snowstorms paralyzed China's rail system stranding thousands of migrant workers at the height of the Chinese New Year holiday period. Lucky number fans pointed out that the numbers that make up that date (2+5+1) added up to 8.

That event was superseded by China's worst natural disaster of recent times when the Sichuan earthquake resulted is over 80,000 fatalities, including over three thousand children. The earthquake occurred on 12/05/08 and coincidentally 1+2+5=8

Surely, then, no sane person could ever attach any good fortune to this simple digit? Surely we all agree now that the concept of lucky and unlucky numbers is pure hokum?

Well, not exactly. As Asia Times reports, feng shui experts have an explanation for all the bad stuff that happened during this so-called lucky year:

"According to the philosophy in Yi Jing (The book of Change) and that of ancient philosopher Laozi (Laocius), things will take a reverse course when developing to an extreme. A situation with all yin or all yang is very unstable and risky.

By this doctrine, the Beijing Summer Olympic Games may have exploited the luck of the number 8 to the extreme: the event is set to open at 8 pm, on August 8, in the year 2008 - or 08.08.08. It may be too perfect, and something too perfect needs to be complemented by some imperfections."

Article: The curse of a perfect eight

So there you have it. 2008 wasn't a lucky year because, basically, we milked it too much! Ah well, there's a lesson for us all.

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