Many people in Western cultures believe that 7 is a lucky number. This is evident to those who enjoy online slots in the UK and who know that three 7s often results in a big win. If you prefer to play craps, you’ll know that landing this on seven can also make you a winner. But what is it about the number seven that makes it so special? And is seven a lucky number?
Join us as we learn more about this unusual number.
The number seven in cultures and other parts of history
The lucky number 7 features in different cultures and history, indicating that people clearly have an affinity for this particular number. Here are a few specific examples of the number’s use across various cultures and science.
Eastern philosophy refers to seven chakras
The word “chakra” is Sanskrit for wheel or cycle and more specifically refers to areas of energy from your head to the bottom of your spine. The concept of chakras originated in India, before spreading to other parts of Asia. These are the seven chakras that people are believed to possess, starting from the top of your body:
- Crown chakra
- Third eye chakra
- Throat chakra
- Heart chakra
- Solar plexus chakra
- Sacral chakra
- Root chakra
There are seven deadly sins in Christianity
Christian teachings warn people about seven vices or sins, which are seen as opposite to the seven heavenly virtues. These sins are pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth. They have deep roots in Christianity’s history, dating back hundreds of years.
There are seven demons in Ancient Mesopotamian writing and art
A study by Gina V. Konstantopoulos titled They are Seven: Demons and Monsters in the Mesopotamian Textual and Artistic Tradition describes how, as far back as 2100 BCE references were made to seven demons known as the Sebettu. In the abstract of her study, Gina describes how the role of the demons morphed over time, starting off as fierce and terrifying but assuming a more protective role over time.
Human working memory is limited to seven items, plus or minus two
George A. Miller was a cognitive psychologist who came up with what has become known as Miller’s Law. In 1956, Miller published a study titled The Magic Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two” according to which the largest number of objects that a person’s working memory can retain is seven, plus or minus two. Miller’s Law has become influential in helping us understand cognitive burden and how the mind works.
Scientists named and labelled seven continents
Western scientists chose to divide all the land mass across the world into seven continents – Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Australia. However, it’s important to note that not all countries follow this model. Some countries combine North and South America while yet others view the whole of Europe and Asia as one single land mass.
The number 7 is the state between something being acidic and alkali
A scientific scale was developed to help identify certain substances depending on how acidic or akali they were. This scale starts at zero for the most acidic and ends at 14 for the most akali. The number 7 is used to indicate a substance that is balanced between being alkali or acidic, or more commonly known as neutral.
Seven other facts about the number 7
The number 7 has clearly played an important role in many cultures. Here are seven more fun facts about the number.
1. Seven is a prime number
A prime number is a number that can only be divided by itself and the number one. Other examples of prime numbers are one, three and five.
2. In some countries, cats don’t have nine lives
Many of us are familiar with the phrase “a cat has nine lives”, but some countries have a different view on this. Yes, many countries still believe that cats have more than one life, but it isn’t necessarily nine. In their article “Do Cats Have Nine Lives? The Myth Explained,” Newsweek notes that Arab-speaking countries believe cats have six lives, while Spanish speaking countries believe they have seven.
3. Rainbows are divided into seven distinct colours
Even though a rainbow has a wide gradation of colours, we generally talk about them having seven colours, namely red, orange, green, yellow, blue, indigo and violet.
4. Many countries have a complicated relationship with the number seven
While many Western countries view seven as a lucky number, this isn’t the case in other parts of the world. In Thailand and Vietnam the number is considered unlucky, while the Chinese also think the number doesn’t bring you any good fortune, except in relationships.
5. A US park ranger was struck by lightning seven times
Roy C. Sullivan was a park ranger who somehow survived seven lightning strikes before his death during a firearm incident in 1983. Some may have considered him extremely lucky to have survived seven lightning strikes, but those with Vietnamese heritage might ask who is unlucky enough to get hit by lightning seven times in the first place!
6. When guessing numbers between one and 10, seven is the most likely number to be picked
When asking people to choose a number between one and 10, most people will choose the seven. This may sound strange because you’d think that people would go for five, it being the number in the middle. However, numerous studies and surveys have demonstrated this to be the case.
7. When rolling two dice, the most likely outcome is seven
Due to the fact that so many numbers can be combined to make the number 7, it is the most likely number to appear every time you roll two dice. It has the highest probability at 16.67%, compared to two or 12, which only have a 2.78% chance.
Why is seven a lucky number?
Now that we’ve delved into the history of the number and discovered some interesting facts about it, it’s time to uncover the truth around why seven is a lucky number, or is at least believed to be.
Unfortunately, that’s an answer we don’t have. We know that it’s undoubtedly been an important number in many cultures throughout history and that many people believe it to be lucky, but sadly, there is no evidence that it is indeed a lucky number. Guess we’ll just have to keep on rolling the dice and see if we can uncover the truth behind this important number.
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