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It takes two people to make a covenant of love. No wonder, then, that in primarily Christian parts of the world, the number two is regarded as the "number of Christian love and mutual affection, of marriages and social life." At least this is how the German polymath Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim put it in his 16th-century seminal work, "Three Books of Occult Philosophy," which dealt with magic and its relationship with religion.
These days, couples who would like to have their bond reflected in their wedding date can celebrate with the number two on 22.02.2022. In Germany, a doubled number is referred to as a "Schnapszahl" or "liquor number" for the fact that there's the tendency to see things double when drunk.
A "Schnapszahl" date is symbolic of strength, says Berlin psychotherapist and author Wolfgang Krüger. "People attribute a certain lucky effect to it," he told German news agency, dpa. This, he said, corresponds to the attitude toward marriage, which is symbolically charged.
Lucky numbers and auspicious dates
Choosing to have weddings on a date with numbers considered lucky is done around the world. In China, there were numerous mass weddings on auspicious dates, especially in 2008 and 2009, since the numbers eight and nine have great significance in some parts of the world. In China, for example, the number eight is connected to wealth and health.
On August 8, 2008, 314,224 couples said "I do" to one another — more than 15,000 in Beijing alone. Getting married on 09.09.2009 was expected to lead to a long and happy future, because when pronounced, the number nine sounds similar to the word "jiu," which means "long-lasting."
Doubled numbers — especially eights and nines — are considered lucky in China, where it is said that "good things come in pairs." Two is not a bad number either, as even numbers are considered stable and balanced.
Numbers of misfortune
However, specific numbers that are assigned possible positive and negative effects vary from culture to culture.
In India, for instance, eight is the number of misfortune. In China, meanwhile, the unlucky number is four due to its phonetic similarity to the word "death." Even outside of China, many Asians now avoid the number due to its negative connotations. In buildings, for example, the third floor is occasionally followed by the fifth, and in skyscrapers, the floors 40 to 49 are sometimes skipped.
In China, as well as in Thailand and Vietnam, seven is also an unlucky number. The seventh month is regarded as a month of ghosts. In contrast, seven is often a lucky number in Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures. In the respective holy scriptures there are numerous examples in which the number seven promises good things. In the Bible, for example, the world was created in seven days.
In many cultures, 13 is the number of misfortune. The superstitious fear of the number 13 even has its own term, "triskaidekaphobia." Some airlines therefore do without a thirteenth row in their fleet of aircrafts.
Friday the 13th is not only unpopular among brides and grooms: it has also been ingrained in pop culture, most famously via the 1980 horror film of the same name directed by Sean Cunningham. The fear of this date can turn into a phobia: Those who avoid appointments on Friday the 13th or can't get out of bed on this day may suffer from "paraskavedekatriaphobia," which comes from the Greek words for Friday, "paraskevi" and thirteen "dekatria."
The origins of number symbolism
Author Udo Becker says in his work "Lexicon of Symbols," that numbers "in most cultures and religions are symbol carriers with meanings that are rich, often complicated and not always transparent today." The connection between numbers and meaning has existed for millennia, at least since 2900 BC in Mesopotamia.
The meaning of numbers was also prevalent in Pythagorean culture. The Kabbalah teachings — an orally transmitted mystical tradition within Judaism — and medieval magical speculations are known for having connections between numbers and meaning. However, today number symbolism lives on, mostly in esoteric numerology, which according to Becker consists of "mostly completely baseless speculations."
How a number arrives at its meaning can vary greatly. In Kabbalah, for example, this happens through the interchangeability of numbers and letters. Another possibility is reflected by the example of the number four in China, where phonetic similarity with the word "death" was the origin of the association. Religious traditions and traditional fairy tales are other sources.
Double number weddings: A bad idea?
In Germany, February is a rather unpopular wedding month, statistically speaking. Between 2011 and 2020, only an average of 3.5% of all weddings took place in this winter month. However the dates become more popular when calendar palindromes — sequences of numbers like those on February 22, 2022, which read the same forwards and backwards — come into play. Two years ago, the dates 02.02.2020 and 20.02.2020 were linked to marriage peaks in February.
However, researchers at the University of Melbourne in 2016 discovered number symbolism often doesn't work in a couple's favor. Their study of a Dutch marriage and divorce registry found that marriages contracted on double number dates had an 18% increased risk of failure.
Psychotherapist Wolfgang Krüger sees the reason for this phenomenon to be the fact that couples who chose such dates were more often concerned with outward appearances and occasionally lacked the staying power and the inner connection to get through times of crisis.
Symbolism or not, dates with fewer different digits are easier to remember. Some people choose a date like February 22, 2022, purely for pragmatic reasons — perhaps even in the hope that they won't easily forget their wedding anniversary.
This article was originally written in German.
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