"Wait a minute," you might say. "The number 13 is not a ghost." You are clearly someone who has never had to wake up to the number 13 rattling its chains in the next room or causing your child to say "REDRUM" over and over again. Anyway, unlucky numbers are specific concepts that people believe will do horrible things to them in a magical way, so close enough. If you're insistent on ghost purity, read ahead to the next entry.
Most people have heard about some Western buildings not having a 13th floor due to superstition about the number 13. The practice has been dying out, but some newer buildings still do it, like One Canada Square, the tallest building in Britain (until the Shard London Bridge is completed).
Doesn't really have much else going for it, does it?
One Canada Place gets around the problem by having no "usable space" on the 13th floor, and no button for it on the elevator. Other buildings just rename the 13th floor as "14," exposing the unsuspecting residents of the new "14th floor" to all kinds of magical catastrophes, unless the number 13 spirit is as stupid as a Chinese ghost and just wanders away disappointed after not finding its designated floor.
Speaking of China again, Chinese buildings are even better. The unlucky number in China is four, as well as any number that ends in four. Why? Because the word for "four" sounds like the word for "die". Yes, that's a superstition based on a pun. I think that accounts for about half the superstitions in China. Like the word for "orange" sounds like the word for "gold," so you eat oranges on the New Year so you can be rich. Anyway, so no fourth floors.
And on many buildings, no 14th floors either. And no 24th, 34th, etc. But wait! There's more.
China is part of the global economy now. That means they're picking up Western habits, like smoking, pollution, getting fat and a ridiculous avoidance of the number 13. So you can find buildings that are missing not only the fourth floor and 14th floor, but also the 13th floor.
I think the -1 floor here might have been an attempt to offset the missing floor four, but throwing out floors 13 and 14 kind of makes that whole exercise pointless, you'd think.
So yeah, it seems pretty silly, until you look at one study saying that Chinese and Japanese (who share the superstition) populations actually show a spike in heart attacks on the fourth of each month, apparently literally scaring themselves to death. The study has been disputed, but you can't say the number four isn't serious business in Asia.
The Philippines is an extremely superstitious country, which may sound a bit ballsy coming from someone whose people think evil spirits can slide off of roofs. There are many, many Filipino superstitions. But when it comes to building your house in a ghost-aware way, probably the biggest thing is basements.
In some cultures in the Philippines, basements and sunken rooms are seen as hiding places for evil spirits. The only way you can get away with a sunken room is if you have an exit in the house that is lower than that room.
I guess this works as a sort of evil spirit drainage. Sure, why not.
A guide to proper ghost drainage.
Though not directly ghost-related, a more popular superstition is "oro, plata, mata" (gold, silver, death). This is seriously almost exactly like "eenie meenie miney moe." When you're building steps in your house, you count them with, "oro, plata, mata," and repeat, so step four is oro again, and step five is plata, and so on. If you finish with "oro," you're good, "plata," you're OK, "mata," OH MY GOD YOU'RE GOING TO DIE IT'S THE DEATH STEP. So not a lot of three or six-step flights of stairs. This same phrase is applied to anything you can count off in the house, like flagstones in a path or planks in a ramp.
Ghosts take their "eenie meenie miney mo" SERIOUSLY.
While a lot of cultures build their houses around spirits, Thais actually build houses for spirits. Thai spirit houses are built on the assumption that there are spirits living everywhere, including any land where you want to build a new building. Like anyone would be, they'll be upset that you're kicking them out of their house to build your dream home.
At some point in time, one brilliant Thai had the idea that you could build another house for them, next to yours. Then the spirits could live in the tiny spirit house and not bother you in your giant fancy people house that you built on their land. We had a similar plan in the United States at one point, only we did it to people, and we called the shitty houses "reservations."
Well, while Native Americans were pretty upset about it (being intelligent human beings), Thai spirits were apparently too stupid to realize they were getting the short shrift, so spirit houses work. Not only are the spirits appeased, but they also help protect you and help you win the lottery, especially if you give them enough offerings. Acceptable offerings include fruit, rice and strawberry Fanta.
Yes, seriously, the strawberry Fanta is a real thing.
However, some spirits seem to have a stronger sense of self-esteem. During the construction of the Grand Hyatt Erewan, the workers put up a spirit house like they always did, but apparently the spirits weren't very happy with it, because there were a lot of accidents and problems with the hotel construction. They consulted a monk and finally replaced the spirit house with a much fancier one and everything went swimmingly, now that the spirits had a proper crib.
Still not as nice as the hotel, I bet.
To add insult to injury, when a building is sold or demolished, the humans toss the spirit house in the garbage or leave it under a tree to rot. And still there's been no spirit rebellion. Man, they have to catch on eventually, right?
Check out weeks past, when Christina showed us 5 Examples of Americans Thinking Foreign People Are Magic or 7 Things From America That Are Insanely Popular Overseas.