Since I was born on the 17th of March, seventeen has always been my lucky number. It remains to be seen if this will be a lucky year for me. But I have high hopes. Why not?
At any rate, seventeen, it turns out is a very interesting number.
For one thing, it’s a prime number. Let’s hope this means it will be a prime year. If you look up it’s other mathematical significance, mathematicians use words I would need Michael to explain to me, like “polynomial,” “orthogonal curvilinear coordinate systems,” and “the base of the aliquot tree” (which works for me only if there is a giraffe standing under it.)
A fun mathematical fact is that seventeen is known as the “least random number.” In studies that have been repeated in many cultures over the world, when people are asked to pick a number between 1 and 20, many more pick 17 than would be expected by pure chance.
Wikipedia lists thirty-two songs with “seventeen” in the title. The only such song that I actually know the words to is this one:
And it doesn’t even have “seventeen” in the title. All this pop music attention may have something to do with the age of sexual consent, which can be earlier in some cultures, but which is pretty universally true by seventeen. In the USA and Canada, seventeen year olds are allowed to see R-rated films without parental consent.
But let’s get down to the problems at hand on our sacred but beleaguered planet. What has seventeen to offer us who have had to suffer through that sucker 2016?
Italians are said to believe that seventeen is an unlucky number, similar to thirteen in other places. I did a quick unscientific study at New Year’s lunch today, and only half the people there knew that seventeen was considered unlucky. One person said it was only unlucky if it was a Friday.
Evidently, the reason for this superstition is that the Roman numeral for seventeen is written XVII, which can be anagrammed into Vixi—Latin for “I have lived.” Meaning perhaps “I used to be alive,” an unlucky state in anyone’s mind. There were Roman tombs inscribed with the deceased's name and VIXI. On the other hand, the translation of the verb might also be “I have survived,” which if you can read this, you can say exactly that about 2016. None of my Italian friends knew this as the source of Hepadecapobia. Nor do they suffer from it.
The Irish, of course, consider seventeen, as I do—a very lucky number.
Hopeful Biblical references abound, if your thoughts look for hope in that direction. Biblical scholars say that in the Good Book, the number seventeen symbolizes overcoming an enemy and complete victory. Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat on the seventeenth day of the seventh Hebrew month. Christ rose from the dead on the 17th day of Nisan. There are a lot more of these references, quite enough to hearten your expectations of 2017.
New Age thinkers look to the Tarot card number 17, which symbolizes wishes that will come true.
The ultimate in political comments available for the number 17 has to do with the 17th President of the United States, Andrew Johnson—Abraham Lincoln’s Vice President, who succeeded Abe. He was the first president ever to be impeached. But he stayed in office—by only one vote.
Then again, let’s remember the cross street for the White House is Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street, NW.
When it comes to the year we begin, no matter the evidence or where it comes from, I am keeping a positive attitude. As I walked to lunch today, I passed these doors labeled 17.
My wish is this: That 2017 will open many doors to joy and accomplishment for all of you!