August 13 is International Lefthanders Day. It was first observed on August 14, 1976 to promote awareness of the inconveniences facing left-handers in a predominantly right-handed world. The day celebrates the uniqueness and difference of lefthanders who make up seven to ten percent of the world’s population.
Historically left-handedness has had negative meanings in many cultures. The Latin word sinistra originally meant “left” but took on meanings of “evil” or “unlucky” by the Classical Latin era, and this meaning survives in European derivatives of Latin, and in the English word “sinister”.
In many modern European languages, including English, the word for the direction “right” also means “correct” or “proper”, and also stands for authority and justice. In most Slavic languages the root prav is used in words carrying meanings of correctness or justice. In Chinese culture, the adjective “left” ( zuǒ) sometimes means “improper” or “out of accord”. The phrase “left path” (zuǒdào) stands for unorthodox or immoral means. In Hebrew, as well as in other ancient Semitic and Mesopotamian languages, the term “left” was a symbol of power or custody. The left hand symbolized the power to shame society, and was used as a metaphor for misfortune, natural evil, or punishment from the gods.
In many cultures, left handedness has a positive connotation. The indigenous peoples of the Andes (formerly Incas) believe left-handers possess special spiritual abilities, including magic and healing. In Tantric Buddhism, the left hand represents wisdom. In Russian, “levsha” (lefty, lefthander) was a common noun for skilled craftsman.