Three is definitely a lucky number. Especially, if it is connected to the arrival of a new family member...
And then there were three...
...wasn't that the name of a Genesis-record, right after another member had left that pop group? Anyway, follow me to an article that was originally published under the headline: "Three with Mr P." You will soon know, why.
Everything happens in threes is a very optimistic view of things and motivation to try another time. "Aller guten Dinge sind drei (Good things come in threes)," as the German saying goes. "Third time's a charm" is a more charming alternative once again in English. In Spanish that would be "A la tercera va la vencida (The third time is the good one)." And in Polish it is "Do trzech razy sztuka (By the art of three times)." The Slovene version would be "Vse dobre stvari so tri (All good things are three)." In Italy there is a different meaning to the saying "Non c'e' il due senza il tre (There is not the second without the third)." It implies, if it was not working for the first and the second time, then it will also not work at the third time!
Which is similar to the French "Jamais deux sans trois (Never two without three)." Also in the UK the saying is the opposite, "Bad things always come in threes." In Turkey it sounds more positive again: "Allah'in hakki uctur (God gives 3 chances to everybody to manage something)." People, who have watched the 2006 Eastwood-movie "Letters from Iwo Jima," will know the Japanese phrase "Nido arukoto wa sando aru (If a thing happens twice, a third time will come)" which is used for good things and bad things. In Korea, "Samsaebun (Three times)" suggests, one out of three tries will work. And in China, instead you say "Shi bu guo san (Things not over three)," meaning that you can just try things three times, not more often. Although four kids, how does that sound...?
Click on the above picture to see how this webpage looked in the first place.
Three under the tree. Over the year, the number three would be connected to yet another family tradition, which had to do with taking pictures of dear family members in front of the Christmas tree. When it started, they were literally "three under the tree", over time though, the tree moved more and more into the background, until only the very peak would peek out. Looking at those heads feels strange, people grow up fast, as you can best find out by comparing with one of those pix from the past. When you assemble some former "kids" in front of a Christmas tree, you might be surprised. Well, see nearby, can you find the tree at all?
Number Symbolism. In medieval Christian number symbolism, three represented a divine number, remembering the Holy Trinity of God Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Four on the other hand is the earth number, as found in the four cardinal directions and the four seasons. Seven, the sum of three and four, signifies perfection, just as the earth was created in seven days, which complete one week. That is why the number of steps of Vienna's St. Stephens Cathedral is 343 or seven to the third power.
The Latin principle "Tres faciunt collegium - Three make a college" remembers the old University law that a lecture could only be held, if - besides the presenter - at least two students were present. So it always comes back to three, which start to form a community, where two had just represented a couple.
Traditions can start in simple ways. Be it just to take a picture of three under a tree.
(Un-) Lucky numbers come to mind when talking about luck, lotto and modern superstition. Especially the number thirteen has got quite a few theories behind it: In ancient Egypt the Circle of Life was divided into 12 stages of ascension and spiritual growth in this life, and a 13th stage beyond, representing glorious transformation and eternal life. Which would tie into the mummification ritual, a 13 step embalming treatment to preserve the human body for the afterlife. Over the centuries though the number 13 simply became associated with a fear of death. In Christianity the number 13 is associated with a curse, as it represents the number of people present at the Last Supper and some traditions have it that the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table. With Good Friday being the day Christ died, together they would form Friday, the 13th, as the most unlucky day for those, who want to believe it. Especially though for the Knights Templar, who were extinguished on that very day. Although Friday is very popular these days for being the end of the working week. An American restaurant even calls itself TGI Friday's - Thank God It's Friday!
Room Number 13. An Edgar Wallace movie was called "Room 13 (Zimmer 13, 1963)," dealing with a secret hideout for conspiracy of any kind. In response to modern supervision, especially US hotels don't have a room number 13 and no 13th floor any more. Neither is there an additional "Mezzanin - intermediate floor" or "Obergeschoss - upper floor" between the ground floor and the first floor, as typical for old Austrian buildings. On my own on a business trip overseas, one night I would go to the movie theater and look up the films playing. I decided to get tickets for "1408," which sounded like a historic drama to me, maybe something about the discovery of America prior Columbus. For having an age limit, it was definitely no kids' comedy. Sitting in the show, the opening credits revealed that it was based on a story by Steven King. And it turned out to be about a haunted hotel room with the number 1408. After seeing all these ghosts jump out of its window, I was thankful that my own hotel room was on the ground floor.
Deadly Number 4. In China the number 8 is considered a lucky number. Being "but" in Cantonese, its pronunciation "ba" is similar to "fa," which sounds like getting rich or believing it could bring good fortune. In Japanese 8 is "hachi" and its Chinese character consists of two strokes shaped like a mountain. They are perceived as wide open, suggesting that there are better things to come in the future. Another of the lucky numbers is 6 or "liu" (Mand.) resp. lou (Cant.), which can also mean "smooth" in some occasions. For New Year some people say "Liu liu da shun (everything be smooth)." The Cantonese sound of 4 or "sei" is similar to death. Also, 24 is "ya sei" and means easy to die, while 44 by some people is considered lucky again, for 4 plus 4 is 8. In Japan the number 4 is "shi," which also means to die. And so because of superstition in some far eastern buildings the 4th and 14th floor is missing - especially in Hospitals, just like the 13th floor is left out in American hotels.
Sneezy Number 8. In Korea, where four or "sa" also means death, as another way out the 4th floor is sometimes labeled "F" instead of using the number. Going back to "ha-chi," the Japanese number 8 sounds quite similar to someone sneezing in German "hatschi," equaling "achoo" in English. And believe me, hearing people from several countries sneeze, they all have their own dialect. In Japan, they sneeze "hakuchon," really, and "ha-chee" in China. The traditional response to sneezing, "Bless you" or in German wishing the other "Gesundheit - health," comes from medieval times, when a cold could easily be deadly. Nowadays, some make fun of it by wishing something else to others, like "Schoenheit - beauty." Chinese and Japanese people believe that a sneeze (for Koreans an itchy ear) is a sign that someone is talking about you. Just like some associate the hiccups with someone thinking of you or even missing you - you wish!
Inside a Chinese Elevator - any floors with unlucky numbers missing?