July 7, 2017
My favorite number is 7. Lucky number 7.
Today is the 69th installment of this series, but since this is July 7, 2017, I wanted to dedicate this post to the number 7. And just like I did for the number 13, I am looking at the number 7 and discussing its symbolic value.
Is 7 the Most Popular Number?
Seven is a mystical number and for some reason most people see it as lucky. And when people are asked what their favorite number is, 7 is usually chosen. Some examples:
- According to a survey of 44,000 people carried out by Alex Bellos (a mathematician and the author of Alex Through the Looking Glass), about 10% chose 7 as their favorite number.
- A similar survey of 30,000 (cited by David Derbyshire in 2014) had the same result.
- According to an article on Wonderopolis, the number 7 usually comes out ahead whether respondents are asked to choose a number between 1 and 10 or there are no such limits.
- And a 2015 survey conducted by Newcastle University found that over 13% of respondents chose 7 as their lucky number.
Are there any underlying reasons for that choice? And how has the number 7 been connected to people throughout the ages?
Why is 7 Seen As Such a Lucky Number?
Seven is considered lucky in gambling. For instance, three sevens will give someone a blackjack. Opposite sides of dice add up to 7. And three sevens usually give someone a jackpot.
But there must be a deeper meaning.
From my research, the number 7 is deeply connected to various religions and ancient mathematicians. There is also a natural connection to the number 7.
In ancient Greece, the number seven was seen as extremely lucky. In particular, Pythagoreans saw it as the perfect number.
The Abrahamic religions refer to seven heavens. In Judaism, the Talmud states there are seven heavens which make up the universe. God is said to reside above the seventh heaven according to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
As part of Islam, Muslims who go on a pilgrimage to Mecca are to walk seven times around the Kaaba. (The Kaaba is a cubic building which rests in the center of Islam’s most sacred mosque.)
Jewish weddings weave the number 7 in the tradition. For one thing, the conferring of the seven blessings is one of the most important parts of the ceremony. Also, Jewish brides circle their grooms seven times (Pukas).
In Christianity, there are seven Sacraments, based on acts of Jesus in the Gospels. The Holy Sacraments are: Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance and Reconciliation (Confession), Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.
There are seven deadly sins: greed, gluttony, pride, lust, sloth, envy, and wrath
There are also seven heavenly virtues: humility, chastity, kindness, patience (“patience is a virtue”), abstinence, diligence, and liberality.
The number 7 figures prominently in the Bible. According to various counts, the number 7 is mentioned in the Bible anywhere from 490 to 735 times (with 54 mentions in the book of Revelation alone). If other terms with “seven” in it (like “sevenfold” and “seventh”) are added, the total number of mentions jumps up to 860!
There are too many instances to name here and not all mentions of the number 7 are symbolic, so here is a list of instances were seven is mentioned in a symbolic sense:
In the book of Genesis, God creates the Earth and heavens in six days, but he rests on the seventh, thus creating the Sabbath. This also establishes the seven-day week, which we still use today.
Also in the book of Genesis: There were seven pairs of clean animals on Noah’s ark. And the Great Flood occurred after Noah went into his ark.
In the New Testament, Jesus performed seven miracles. He mentioned seven parables in Matthew 13.
Also, while the number 6 represents mankind, the number 7 represents God. Thus, seven is the number that represents completeness.
Hinduism has seven higher worlds and seven underworlds. In the ancient Vedic form of Hinduism, the sun god’s chariot is pulled by seven horses and the human body was said to have seven basic chakras (wheels of energy).
In Japanese mythology, there are seven gods of fortune. They are responsible for good health, long life, happiness, knowledge, wealth, warriors and fishermen.
In Buddhism, the story of the Buddha had him rising to his feet and taking seven steps as a newborn.
The Lucky Number 7 in Nature
Of course, there are naturally occurring instances of numbers wherever you look, but one may be the most interesting of all. Regarding the number 7:
A species of ladybugs have seven spots.
There are seven seas. There are the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Arctic Ocean, The Indian Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico.
There are seven continents: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.
There are seven colors in a natural rainbow: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (or ROY G. BIV).
There are 7 notes in a musical scale. ♪ABCDEFG♪
What interested me most is information I found on Wonderopolis and Psychology Today. The first article mentioned that people best remembered things in groups of seven. That information was corroborated from information shared by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. She went even further and said that the neurons (brain cells) were based at receiving information with their dendrites (branches) numbered 7.
Does Anyone See the Number 7 As an Unlucky Number?
The Chinese have a love-hate relationship with the Number 7.
On one hand, there are many good connections with the number 7. For one thing, seven represents the combination of Yin and Yang with the Five Elements (Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, and Metal), which is considered harmony in Confucianism. Seven stand for Tao in Chinese Taoism, thus representing kindness and beauty.
In Buddhist Scripture, there are Seven Treasures: gold, silver, colored glaze, coral, amber, seashell, and agate.
There are terms like “to create a poem in seven steps” to refer to one’s quickness of wit and “seven arrests and seven releases,” which means one makes his opponents give up after using tricks.
There is also the Double Seven Festival, which is based on the story of the Milky Way Lovers. Due to legend, they can only meet on July 7th (“Lucky Number Seven”).
Sometimes the Chinese dislike the number 7.
The July 7th Incident of 1937 (also named Marco Polo Bridge Incident) always reminds Chinese people of the painful history of the eight-year’s Sino-Japanese War. 7 has the same pronunciation with 欺, Qi in Chinese, meaning cheating, lying to, or riding roughshod over someone. When choosing a telephone number or something like that, 7 is often left out of the list.
Did You Know?
There were originally five colors when Isaac Newton was separating the spectrum. He added orange and indigo in 1672 because he wanted there to be seven colors so there could be a connected with the number of days in a week and other things in nature.
There were 7 visible objects in the solar system during Isaac Newton’s time (Pukas). These “planets” were the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (“Lucky Number 7”).
In Tarot cards, the seven of clubs is used to represent ambition, desire, drive, and initiative.
The seventh son of the seventh son is believed have supernatural powers. In Irish folklore, the son would have magical healing powers. According to English and Latin American folklore, such a son would become a werewolf. According to Romanian legend, such a son would become a vampire.
The seven-year itch refers to the point where most marriages begin to feel stale or problems develop in a marriage. “The Seven-Year Itch,” a movie with Marylin Monroe, was based on that theme. However, the term was originally coined to refer to long-lasting skin irritations, including scabies and herpes.
David Beckham wore the number 7 jersey when he played for Manchester United and for England in the World Cup. Beckham and his wife, Victoria, named their daughter Harper Seven. Victoria Beckham chose the first name Harper because Harper Lee was the author of the former Spice Girl’s favorite novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. David Beckham said Seven was chosen as his daughter’s middle name because the number 7 represented spiritual completeness and it was considered a very lucky number around the world (Pukas).
There was a character named Seven on the FOX show Married with Children.
July 7 is kind of a Chinese Valentine’s Day in China based on the mythology.
Derbyshire, David. “Why ‘lucky 7’ really is the world’s magic number.” The Daily Mail. 10 Apr 2014. Web. Retrieved 7 July 2017. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2601281/Why-lucky-7-really-magic-number.html>.
Humble, Steve. “Why ‘7’ is the luckiest number.” The Conversation. 8 Mar 2016. Web. Retrieved 7 July 2017. <http://theconversation.com/why-7-is-the-luckiest-number-55960>.
“Is Seven Really a Lucky Number?” Wonderopolis. Web. Retrieved 7 July 2017. <http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/is-seven-really-a-lucky-number>.
Krauss Whitbourne, Susan, Ph.D. “7 Reasons We Like 7 Reasons.” Psychology Today. 20 Sept 2011. Web. Retrieved 7 July 2017. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201109/7-reasons-we-7-reasons>.
“Lucky Number 7.” Travel China Guide. Web. Retrieved 7 July 2017. <https://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/lucky-number7.htm>.
“Lucky Number Seven.” Psychic Library. 5 Oct 2013. Web. Retrieved 7 July 2017. Web. <http://psychiclibrary.com/beyondBooks/lucky-number-7/>.
“The Meaning of Numbers: The Number 7.” The Bible Study Site. Web. Retrieved 7 July 2017. Web. <http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/7.html>.
Pukas, Anna. “The magnificient 7: The meaning and history behind the world’s favourite number.” Express.co.uk. 10 Apr 2014. Web. Retrieved 7 July 2017. <http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/469565/The-magnificient-7-The-meaning-and-history-behind-the-world-s-favourite-number>.
Wellman, Jack. “What Does the Number Seven (7) Mean or Represent in the Bible.” Christian Crier. Patheos; 26 Sept 2014. Weblog. Retrieved 7 July 2017. <http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2014/09/26/what-does-the-number-seven-7-mean-or-represent-in-the-bible/>.
“What is the biblical significance of the number seven/7?” Got Questions? Web. Retrieved 7 July 2017. Web. <https://www.gotquestions.org/number-7-seven.html>.