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Did you know the origin of the word “Serendipity” comes from a 5th century Persian fairytale? Plus, serendipity does not mean synchronicity, even though people often use these words interchangeably. Our storyteller Diana explains it all, as well as telling the original story of The Three Princes of Serendip in the audio below.

This audio is NSFW. AI generated transcript available upon request.

The difference between Serendipity and Synchronicity

Serendipity is the unexpected happening upon something of interest or relevance or value. And then having the innate wisdom to recognize the relevance or value within a completely different context than what you were encountering it in, or what you were expecting to encounter the answer to some kind of problem you were pondering. In other words, serendipity is a Eureka! moment from an unexpected source.

Synchronicity is the acausal connecting principle between multiple low probability events happening simultaneously. In other words, whatever is causing those two very low probability events or more than two to happen simultaneously and have some relevance between each other, the connection they’re in is inherently supernatural in some way. The connection between the events is in meaning rather than causation.

Synchronicity is an album by The Police and is not a serendipity.
Synchronicity is also an album by The Police

Who are The Three Princes of Serendip?

The 5th century Persian fairytale of the Three Princes of Serendip is the inspiration for the word serendipity. Serendip is an old name for Sri Lanka, and the story itself we have thanks to Peregrinaggio di tre giovani figliuoli del re di Serendippo published in 1557 by Michele Tramezzino.

In the story, three highly educated princes use deductive reasoning to solve many problems and in doing so save a few kingdoms, a distressed maiden, and a lame camel. This deductive detective work in the tale went on to inspire Voltaire with his novella Zadig, then Edgar Allen Poe in creating his character C. Auguste Dupin, and finally Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as he created the detective Sherlock Holmes.

If you want to hear the full fairytale and learn where the word “serendipity” comes from, take a listen below. And have a spooky day!