From saluting a magpie to making a wish at 11.11am, Brits have been partaking in unusual superstitions for centuries.
A superstition is described as “any belief or practice considered by non-practitioners to be irrational or supernatural”.
They have been associated with fate or magic, perceived supernatural influence or a general ‘fear of the unknown’ – and have caused various cultures to avoid certain numbers due to their ‘historical religious beliefs’.
Here’s the world’s unluckiest numbers – and why people try to avoid them:
In China, the number 4 is considered unlucky because the pronunciation of the word is similar to the Chinese word for death.
This is why many buildings in China skip a fourth floor, some will even avoid purchasing a house if it’s number 4 on the street.
A lot of companies avoid using the number 4 entirely, like the Japanese camera maker Fuji skipping the series 4 and jumping to series 5 from 3.
Many believe that the unlucky number 13 comes from The Bible, as Judas was said to be the 13th guest to sit down at The Last Supper.
In Norse mythology, a ‘dinner party of the Gods’ was said to be ruined by 13th guest Loki, who then caused the world to be plunged into darkness.
When combined with the last day of the week, Friday, it’s pretty much a recipe for disaster, or so some people think.
There’s even a name for the fear of the number 13, known as ‘riskaidekaphobia’ which many people suffer from.
Some hotels won’t even have a 13th floor, others won’t fly on a plane if it’s on Friday 13th, the list really does go on.
Long story short, everybody dislikes the number 13, which is why it’s the premise of a lot of horror films and is even named after a creepy ride at Alton Towers.
In India, the number 8 is considered unlucky because it is said to be related to the three stars of Saturn.
Known as ‘Sani’ in Hindi, it’s said to be a relationship of peace breaker, as many catastrophes have happened on the 8th or on dates relating to the number 8.
Examples of this theory include The Kashmir earthquake (October 8, 2005), Mumbai floods (July 26, 2005), Gujarat earthquake (January 26, 2001) and the Indian Ocean tsunami (December 26, 2004).
In Japan, the number 9 is considered a bad number for a similar reason to how China feels about the number 4.
It sounds similar to the Japanese word for torture or suffering, so they actually pronounce the word differently just incase.
The numbers 4 and 9 are often pronounced yon and kyuu instead, because of the negative connotations both numbers have.
Forget Friday the 13th, some Italians are superstitious about Friday the 17th.
This is because rearranging the Roman numeral XVII creates the word ‘VIXI’ which translates from latin to ‘my life is over.’
Italians really don’t like this day, they even close shops and do things ‘ ‘per scaramanzia’ (superstitions) to ward off any bad omens.
Many Afghans believe that the number 39 translates into ‘morda-gow’ which literally means dead cow.
There’s more to it though, ‘dead cow’ is actually slang for a ‘pimp’ so anything associated with the number 39 is often seen as untoward and unlucky.
Seen as a ‘badge of shame’ the number 39 is avoided as much as possible in Afghanistan.
Surprisingly, 2020 was not the worst year in history, it was the year 536 according to a medieval scholar.
Although the numbers 536 aren’t strictly unlucky, the numbers are associated with a lot of bad luck including ‘extreme weather events’ and food shortages.
A Science Mag spokesperson said: “A mysterious fog plunged Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia into darkness, day and night—for 18 months.
“Temperatures in the summer of 536 fell 1.5°C to 2.5°C, initiating the coldest decade in the past 2,300 years.
“Snow fell that summer in China; crops failed; people starved. The Irish chronicles record ‘a failure of bread from the years 536–539’.”
The numbers 666 are considered a sign of the devil, which will probably explain why we all fear it.
There’s even a name for the fear: ‘Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia’ which the APA estimates about 9 per cent of Americans have.
In the Bible’s apocalyptic, John the Apostle refers to 666 as ‘the number of the beast’ referring to the Antichrist.
Although this isn’t strictly a number, ‘Yakudoshi’ is a Japanese superstition or religious belief that certain years in life are unlucky.
For men, ages 25, 42, and 61 and for women it’s 19, 33 and 37.
The bad luck year is counted by the year you were born and runs for a whole calendar year as opposed to starting on your birthday.