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Tamara Martinez
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What is the meaning of Capicua in Spanish?


In every language, there are some hard-to-translate words. Some may be created due to specific circumstances, while others have a deep, irrigated meaning for different cultures. And that’s the case for Capicua! The term has great cultural significance in both Uruguay and Argentina. Both countries in South America’s southwest have many cultural beliefs surrounding this concept. While the word Capicua is not necessarily unique to these two countries, it has taken on a special meaning and significance within their cultures.

So, what does Capicua means in Spanish?  The term describes a palindrome, a word or phrase that reads the same way forwards and backward. More specifically, the word focuses on numbers readable with this criteria. As you may know, Capicua as a company has its roots in Montevideo, Uruguay. And this specific term applied to daily concepts. In the late 90s and early 00s, Montevideo had something called "boletera." Translated to "ticket carrier," we used to carry it around to take public transportation. "Boleteras" had two characteristic elements. On the one hand, there was a card with every user's info, like name and document number. This identification came with a little plastic envelope to protect it further. 

Yet, the most culturally distinctive was the latter element. It was a mini tambourine with a cylindrical shape and extra space to cut each ticket. So, back in the day, we went to specific governmental spots to "charge" our tickets back in the day. At the time, the way of acquiring tickets was via large stripes of tickets. Let's suppose you wanted to acquire 25 tickets. You used to go to the ticket-charging spot and, after telling the teller your amount, they put a stripe of tickets inside the above-mentioned tambourine. Then, public transportation workers cut a single ticket from it every time you used the bus system.

Yada, yada, yada. Why is this relevant to understanding the concept of "Capicua"? Here comes the magic! Each ticket had five numbers. And most people had the habit of paying attention to those numbers. If your ticket number was readable front and backward alike, it was a sign of good fortune! Many people used to save those "capicua" tickets inside the plastic envelope. Since it was a daily-used thing, people believed that carrying those palindrome numbers would bring good luck to their lives.

The cultural meaning of this word doesn’t stop there! For example, if someone sees a license plate with a Capicua number, they might say "¡Qué suerte!" meaning "How lucky!" So, it’s pretty accurate when we say it’s at the most common things. Another highly used example of this term relates to money and gambling. Uruguayans (and our Argentinian brothers) often use these palindrome numbers as a sign of luck or fortune when playing the lottery or bingo. There’s the implicit idea that capicua numbers are allies who can increase winning chances. The belief is so strong that many lottery players only play if capicua numbers are available!

Beyond its association with luck, Capicua has taken on a deeper cultural meaning in Uruguay and Argentina. The term often refers to a sense of unity and symmetry. This significance starts with the fact that palindromes essentially mirror themselves. They are a reflection of the same thing, both forwards and backward. This sense of symmetry and balance reflects values like community, harmony, and balance. 

Besides its cultural significance, Capicua has uses in art and literature. Many Uruguayan and Argentine writers and poets have used palindromes, including Jorge Luis Borges and Mario Benedetti. These writers saw capicua as a way to create symmetry and balance within their writing. Likewise, they show it as a reflection of the values of their cultures. In fact, that’s why our company is called Capicua! We promote end-to-end products and services, taking care of all elements and steps. Therefore, our outcomes have value regarding what moment users and businesses interact with them.

In conclusion, capicua is a word that holds great cultural significance in Uruguay and Argentina. It’s a symbol of luck but also of unity and symmetry. Palindromes, like capicua, reflect the values of these cultures, which place high importance on community, harmony, and balance. Through its use in conversation, games of chance, literature, and art, capicua has become an essential part of our “Río de la Plata” identity and culture. Do you have a favorite capicua number? We’d love to know!