Pick a number – any number. Chances are, you’ve picked number seven.
Click start to play today’s Spell It and create the word ‘seven’ with the given letters.
Since time immemorial, the number seven has held a special place around the world. Many find it fascinating, even magical or sacred. And you see it everywhere – from the titles of books, like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, to phone numbers, to religious and cultural lore. What makes it so special?
Here are some ways we are drawn to the number:
1. It has ancient significance
The number appeared in many ancient cultures. However, the most famous way it was used is through the seven wonders of the ancient world – a bucket list of incredible sites from years past, from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to the Colossus of Rhodes. Today, there’s also a list of seven wonders of the modern world. It was chosen by global ballot and the results were announced on the seventh day of the seventh month, in 2007.
2. It appears in nearly every major religion
During Hajj and Umrah, Muslims walk around the Kaaba in Makkah seven times, and the number appears often in the Quran. In Christianity, the number is featured in the Book of Revelation, among other places. There is also mention of seven deadly sins – or cardinal sins – and seven virtues. In Hinduism, there are seven higher worlds and seven underworlds, and in Buddhism, the newborn Buddha rises and takes seven steps.
3. It matches our memory capacity
In a classic paper in psychology, published in 1956 by Harvard University in the US, a study demonstrated that most people can retain roughly seven items of information in their short-term memories. That’s why phone numbers usually comprise seven digits (excluding the area code).
4. It is associated with luck
The number is the basis for long-held myths and folklore across the world. In some parts of the world, the seventh son of a seventh son is considered to be endowed with supernatural powers – both good and bad. In English and Latin American folklore, the son has the ability to transform into a werewolf, while in Romania, he can become a vampire. In Ireland, however, the child is believed to have healing powers.
5. It is likely the world’s most popular number
British mathematician Alex Bellos conducted a famous study in 2014, in which, he asked 44,000 people to name their favourite number – over 4,000 of them named the number seven, far ahead of any other number. His study adds on to other social experiments, where it’s been found that people usually choose seven when asked to pick a number from 1 to 10 – a fact that magicians know and take advantage of!