Lazy Eights

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Depending on where you live in the country, you may or may not have any knowledge about Chinese superstition with respect to numbers. . I’ve got a passing understanding of it, which is why real estate ads like these (which I just tore out of the morning paper) strike me as intended for Asian buyers here in the SF Bay Area.


Notice all the 8s? That isn’t an accident. Specifically: “”No. 8 has long been regarded as the luckiest number in Chinese culture. With pronunciation of ‘Ba’ in Chinese, no. 8 sounds similar to the word ‘Fa’, which means to make a fortune. It contains meanings of prosperity, success and high social status too, so all business men favor it very much.”

When I see stuff like this, I think to myself, “Sheesh, are they really THAT superstitious that they would cheerfully pay these prices just because some realtor shoved a bunch of 8s in the price?” But, well, it works, and let’s face it, the United States is packed with buildings lacking a 13th floor based on numeric superstition as well.

Here are a few other fun “8” facts:

+ In 2003, the phone number “+86 28 8888 8888” was sold to Sichuan Airlines for CN¥2.33 million (approximately US$280,000).

+ The opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing began on 8/8/08 at 8 minutes and 8 seconds past 8 pm local time

+ China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and Singapore use the time zone UTC+08:00.
The Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia each have 88 floors.

+ The Air Canada route from Shanghai to Toronto is Flight AC88.

+ The KLM route from Hong Kong to Amsterdam is Flight KL888.

+ The Etihad Airways route from Abu Dhabi to Beijing then onwards to Nagoya is Flight EY888.

+ The United Airlines route from Beijing to San Francisco is Flight UA888, the route from Beijing to Newark is Flight UA88, and the route from Chengdu to San Francisco is Flight UA8.

+ As part of grand opening promotions, a Commerce Bank branch in New York’s Chinatown raffled off safety deposit box No. 888.

+ Similar to the common Western practice of using “9” for price points, it is common to see “8” being used in its place to achieve the same psychological effect.So for example menu prices like $58, $88 are frequently seen.