Category: Lucky News

Lucky 8 for Michael Phelps

8 has turned out to be the luckiest number of all for Michael Phelps. The Beijing Olympic Games began fortuitously on 08.08.08, and last Saturday  (the eighth day of competition, by the way), the swimming champion accomplished what no other athlete has done before in Olympic history—win 8 gold medals during a single Olympics.

To commemorate this historic event, Sports Illustrated is putting Phelps on its cover in what will surely become an iconic image of the athlete. Phelps poses bare-chested and wearing all eight medals in homage to the 1972 photograph of the previous Olympic medal record holder Mark Spitz with his seven medals draped around his neck. The cover could also turn out to be the magazine’s luckiest yet, since’s chockfull of so many lucky symbols—8 gold coins, against an auspicious vibrant Chinese red background and framed in blue–yet another lucky color.

The issue hits newsstands tomorrow. Let’s see how well it sells!

–Kevin

How Lucky is 08.08.08?

For many people around the world, today marks a day of special significance. At precisely 8:08pm in Beijing, the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics will officially begin. A record throng of over 9,000 Chinese couples plan to get married at that very moment. The fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, incidentally, is also planning to wed his girlfriend Dee Ocleppo today, but hopefully for them it will be someplace less crowded. And in Las Vegas, Macau, and other gambling meccas, casinos are bracing for the onslaught of people who believe in the luck of eights.

Why so much fuss over the number eight?

Simply put, it’s the luckiest number for the Chinese. The number is pronounced “ba,” which sounds similar to “fa,” the word for prosperity. For a culture deeply rooted in symbology and superstition, the number is believed to boost good fortune. The Bank of China always assigns it trading rooms to the eighth floor of its buildings, and the Jin Mao Tower, China’s tallest skyscraper, is 88 stories high. It goes without saying that houses with the number 8 in their address attract higher prices, and license plates and phone numbers with as many eights as possible are the most sought after in Hong Kong. (Also popular all over the island are $88 prix fixe menus.)

Visually, the number eight is also auspicious in its symmetry–it’s the only number that can be sliced in half, either vertically or horizontally, and still mirror the other half. Turned to the side, the Roman numeral “8” forms the symbol for infinity, so that makes yet another reason why the number is so favored by superstitious brides.

So the arrival of a date like August 8, 2008, should mark a special opportunity for triple good fortune. Yet, there have been recent rumblings of controversy over how lucky the number 8 really is this year. Chinese numerologists have pointed out that three catastrophic events have taken place this year, and all have borne the imprint of 8. On January 25th the biggest snowstorm to hit China in over fifty years struck the Hunan province. The numbers of that date add up to eight (1 + 2 + 5 = 8). Then, on March 14th (3 + 1 + 4 = 8), violent attacks took place in Tibet. Worse of all was the massive earthquake in the Sichuan province that killed hundreds of thousands. It took place on May 12th (5 + 1 + 2 = 8), precisely 88 days before the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Some naysayers are predicting that this time, the number 8 is a harbinger of bad fortune, and that these Olympic games are headed for disaster.

Will the good fortune of the number 8 be vindicated during these times? We’ll be watching the games closely, so stay tuned.

–Kevin

(Photo by °Florian.)

Let The Games Begin!

The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games had a fortuitous beginning at precisely 8:08pm Beijing time.

(Top photo by Tim Wimborne, Reuters. Bottom photo by Doug Mills, New York Times.)

Exam Day Luck

It’s July, and while most students in the U.S. have been working on their summer tan, hundreds of thousands of students in Vietnam are sweating through their university entrance exams. But before this happens, Hanoi’s 938-year-old Temple of Literature (above) is jammed with thousands of stressed out students hoping to pass their exams. The Temple is Vietnam’s oldest university, and students come here to burn incense, pray for luck, and touch the heads of the eighty-two sacred stone turtles that represent past university laureates, hoping that some of their good luck will rub off.

Many students also participate in the exam day ritual of eating a “lucky breakfast” consisting of green beans, since the Vietnamese word for bean is also the same word for pass. With 1.8 million candidates taking the test every year and only three hundred thousand places available in Vietnam’s universities, hopefuls need every bit of luck they can get. In a country where two thirds of the people are under the age of 30, Vietnam is struggling to cope with the growing pains of a population that demands to be educated. To read more about this issue, click HERE.

–Kevin

(Top photo by Sean Madden, bottom photo by AFP.)

Happy Birthday to a Lucky Bridge

On this day in 1357, the construction of the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic, was kicked off. What makes this a significant date in the world of luck is the fact that this bridge was designed, from the beginning, to be lucky. The original Charles Bridge had been destroyed in the devastating flood of 1342, so much care was taken by King Charles IV to ensure that the new, replacement bridge could withstand future floodwaters. He consulted his astrologers, who deemed that it would be most auspicious for the foundation stone of the new bridge to be laid in 1357 on the 9th of July at exactly 5:31 a.m., a date that forms a palindrome (135797531).

A number of lucky legends concerning the bridge have emerged over the centuries. It is said that special lucky ingredients of eggs, milk, and flour were added to the mortar to give it extra strength, and that every statue added to the bridge subsequently was also fortified with these ingredients. Another legend relates to the statue of St John of Nepomunk, the oldest statue on the bridge. Supposedly, St John was murdered on the orders of King Wenceslaus after he refused to tell the king about the content of the queen’s weekly confession. His body was thrown into the Vltava River, and at the precise moment his body hit the water, five stars appeared in the night sky and could be seen for miles around. (This is why the statue of St John is depicted with a halo of five stars around his head.) There is a brass plaque that depicts this moment underneath the statue, and since the ancient bridge has become Prague’s most popular tourist destination, it has become customary for the thousands of tourists visit the bridge every day to rub the plaque for good luck.

There seems, however, to be a little disagreement as to where precisely one should rub. Some advise rubbing St John’s carved body on the plaque, while others say that one should rub the carving of a dog next to it. Later this month, I will be traveling to Prague and will visit the bridge to conduct a few rubbing experiments and separate fact from fiction. Stay tuned for the full report.

–Kevin

(Photo by Bruno Girin)

Gnome, Gnome on the Range

It appears someone in France has taken that movie Amélie a little bit too seriously Remember how, in that movie, the impish Audrey Tautou kidnaps her father’s garden gnome and has an airline hostess friend bring it along on her trips and photograph it at tourist sights around the world in order to inspire her father to get off his butt and travel? Cute, right?

Well, it’s not so cute when the garden gnome is instead kidnapped, forcibly repainted, and made to live in a garden measuring a modest 215 square feet along with 169 other gnomes (think 6 train heading to Grand Central at 5:30 on a Thursday night). And that’s exactly what happened in France this spring.

When the gnomes first started disappearing, accusing eyes turned to the Garden Gnome Liberation Front (FLNJ), an organization devoted to the emancipation of “nains de jardin.” But is appears they weren’t responsible. Rather, 53-year-old man has now been arrested in the town of Mauron in connection to the crime after 170 gnomes were discovered on his lawn. Although police believe they have the right perpetrator in custody and are prepared to repatriate the stolen gnomes, returning them to their rightful owners (given the repainting) has proven tricky.

So, you’re probably asking yourself, why on earth would anyone kidnap 170 gnomes? Our hypothesis: luck.

The name “gnome” is derived from the Ancient Germanic word Kuba-Walda, which means “home administrator” or “home spirit.” So not only are gnomes kitschy and fun, they’ll bring good luck to any outdoor endeavors. So, this guy must have been thinking, “If one gnome will bring good luck, 170 will bring REALLY good luck” (but in French).

If you have other theories, we’d be glad to entertain them.

Read the full story HERE.

–Deb

(Photo by DPA)

Lucky Road to the White House

Barack Obama displays his lucky charms

John McCain shows off his lucky penny

We here at the Luck Guide have known for quite some time that John McCain and Barack Obama are big believers in luck, but it’s good to see that the news is getting around. Back in May, we highlighted the good luck superstitions of Barack Obama and John McCain in a piece entitled “Hoop Dreams” (read it HERE). This week, citing a number of other media sources, New York Magazine ran a story on their 2008 Electopedia blog that delves even deeper into each of the candidate’s lucky practices. Here are some of the juicier details we’ve learned:

—Obama carries “a bracelet belonging to a soldier deployed in Iraq, a gambler’s lucky chit, a tiny monkey god and a tiny Madonna and child.”

—Obama tucked into a big plate of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day 2008 when communications director Robert Gibbs explained that it would bring good luck.

—There was widespread panic in McCain’s camp when his lucky feather and lucky compass disappeared (at different times). Things calmed down only when they were recovered.

—One of McCain’s primary-day rituals includes making sure that “lucky friend” Steve Dart is always close by.

It’s hard to assess at this point which of the presidential candidates has a better handle on their mojo bag. I suppose we’ll all find out on Election Day. To read the full New York Magazine article, click HERE.

–Kevin

(Photos by Brooks Croft for Time magazine. To see the full photos, click HERE.)

Stay Lucky this Friday the 13th

Stay Lucky this Friday the 13th

Stay Lucky this Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th is here, and it’s (luckily) the only one we’ll have this year.

How did this day become known as a perfect storm of bad luck? Fridays have been considered unlucky ever since Jesus Christ (made famous by The Bible) was supposedly crucified on that day and the Knights Templar (made famous by The Da Vinci Code) were said to have been arrested on Friday, October 13, 1307.

The number thirteen itself has been unlucky since the time of the ancient Hindis, and in Norse mythology, the god Loki was the thirteenth guest who crashed a dinner party uninvited and had another guest killed. Perhaps a more famous unlucky dinner guest was Judas Iscariot, the thirteenth invitee to the Last Supper.

All of these events, coupled with Hollywood doing such a bloody good job of marketing their Friday the 13th movie franchise, has made for a day that’s dreaded by most of us. If you feel a touch of paraskavedekatriaphobia (the fear of Friday the 13th) setting on, fear not, because we’ve got a whole host of things you can do to ensure that this day goes smoothly:

–Start the day off on the right foot, literally, by getting out of the bed on the right side and making sure that the first step you take outside is with your right foot. (If your bed is against a wall and you can’t get out on the right side, you’ve got other problems best solved by consulting the Lucky Bedroom section of Luck: The Essential Guide.)

–Wear red underwear. It’s the color that’s most fortuitous on days like today. And don’t put on anything that’s green, the unluckiest color. (The only exceptions to this rule are if green has always brought you luck, or you’re Irish.)

–Carry your favorite lucky charm in your pocket. If you don’t have one, try an acorn, a four leaf clover, or grab the first heads up penny you come across.

–Avoid the temptation to tidy up today: brooms should not be handled under any circumstances; don’t do the laundry; and you shouldn’t flip the mattress or change the sheets.

–It’s best not to begin anything new today—a new job, a new project, a new haircut, or even a new box of cereal. Likewise, we wouldn’t recommend job interviews, getting on a plane, or going for surgery today.

–Eat a big meal with lots of garlic. It’s been known as the luckiest herb since ancient Egyptian times, and of course, it’ll also keep away those pale men with slicked-back hair, satin capes, and preposterous accents.

–If you live in anywhere near New York City, you might want to pay a visit to one of the lucky spots outlined in the latest Time Out New York. Click HERE to read the article.

–Kevin

Photography by Denny Yuniarta (left) and Claudecf (right).

A Penis a Day Keeps the Viagra Away

A platter of ox and dog penises.

A friend and I were discussing a recent article in Vogue magazine about the restaurant scene in Beijing. When I mentioned this article to my boyfriend, he forwarded me a link to the (English) online edition of the German magazine Der Spiegel [HERE], which ran an article about a restaurant in Beijing that specializes in dishes made from animal penises.

By way of explanation, the article quotes an apparently familiar Chinese saying: “Chinese eat anything with four legs, except tables. And everything that flies, except airplanes,” and then proceeds to describe the dishes in detail (and with photos!). The penises (ox, donkey, dog, sheep, yak) are prepared in a variety of ways (raw, roasted, with curry) and are thought to increase male virility and improve sex drive in men. Women are warned away from eating animal testicles, but it is noted that eating penises is risk free and may even improve a female diner’s skin.

So, what does all this have to do with luck? Glad you asked.

Toward the end of the article, the author writes, “At the end of the meal, Lucy [the waitress] hands over a little red box with ribbons on it. The dog penis bone is inside. It’s a souvenir, she says, and is supposed to bring luck and protect the holder against ‘harmful influences.’”

This is where I make a bad joke about how it wasn’t so lucky for the dog.

–Deb

(Photo by Reuters)

Bragging on the Blog

Most people know that it’s bad luck to boast of good fortune. And many say that people (dating back to pagan times) knocked on wood as a way of acknowledging and securing favor with the gods who dwelled in trees, particularly if they had said something that drew attention to their good fortune. “He who talks too much of happiness summons grief” goes the old proverb. And there are a couple of theories as to why knocking on wood is supposed to help. One suggests that knocking on wood frightens bad spirits away or prevents them from hearing of your good fortune and taking it away. The other claims that the knocking acknowledges and calls to the good spirits who use their power to ensure you keep the good luck. So, just as example, if I were to hypothetically say something like, well, I don’t know, maybe “Luck: The Essential Guide is getting some very nice reviews, including one on the recently launched New Yorker blog called The Book Bench (click HERE),” I might knock on wood after I said it to make sure that the next person who writes a review doesn’t totally slam it. Just hypothetically, of course.

–Deb