Unlucky Numbers in China: Superstitions, Beliefs, and Traditions

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In China, certain numbers are considered unlucky due to their phonetic association with negative concepts or historical events. These beliefs have deep roots in Chinese culture and can have significant impacts on daily life, such as influencing decisions on business deals or purchasing a home. Let’s explore the topic of unlucky numbers in China and how they continue to play a role in contemporary Chinese society.

The Significance of Numbers in Chinese Culture

Numbers play a crucial role in Chinese culture, with many of them associated with specific meanings and beliefs. In particular, odd numbers are considered lucky, while even numbers are deemed unlucky. This is because the Chinese word for “even” sounds similar to the word for “death” in Chinese. As a result, even numbers are often avoided, especially when it comes to important events like weddings, funerals, and business deals.

Lucky Numbers in Chinese Culture

  1. The number one is considered the most auspicious number in Chinese culture, as it represents unity, independence, and new beginnings. It is often associated with success, happiness, and prosperity.
  2. The number three is also considered lucky, as it represents harmony, balance, and completeness. It is often used in decorations and gifts, as it is believed to bring good luck and fortune.
  3. The number five is associated with the five elements of Chinese philosophy (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water), and is considered a symbol of balance and harmony. It is often used in Chinese medicine and feng shui practices for its healing properties.
  4. The number eight is another lucky number in Chinese culture, as it sounds similar to the word for “prosperity” in Chinese. It is often used in business and financial transactions, as it is believed to bring wealth and success.

Unlucky Numbers in Chinese Culture

  1. The number four is considered the most unlucky number in Chinese culture, as it sounds similar to the word for “death” in Chinese. It is often avoided in everyday life, and many buildings in China skip the fourth floor altogether.
  2. The number seven is also considered unlucky, as it is associated with death and misfortune. It is often avoided in weddings and other celebrations, as it is believed to bring bad luck.
  3. The number nine is sometimes considered unlucky as well, as it sounds similar to the word for “long-lasting” in Chinese, which can imply a prolonged suffering.
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Unlucky Numbers in Chinese Superstitions

One key takeaway from this text is that numbers hold significant meaning and beliefs in Chinese culture. Odd numbers are considered lucky, while even numbers are deemed unlucky due to their association with the word for “death” in Chinese. The numbers one, three, five, and eight are considered lucky, while four, seven, and sometimes nine are considered unlucky. These beliefs are reflected in everyday life, from building floors to phone numbers and addresses. Additionally, Chinese traditions have specific inauspicious numbers and ghosts associated with them, which many people try to avoid to prevent bad luck and misfortune.

The Number Four

The number four is considered the most unlucky number in Chinese superstitions. It is often associated with death and misfortune, and many people in China avoid it at all costs. The number four is so unlucky that many buildings in China skip the fourth floor altogether, replacing it with the number five instead. In addition, many Chinese people try to avoid phone numbers, license plates, and addresses that contain the number four.

The Number Seven

The number seven is also considered unlucky in Chinese superstitions, as it is associated with death and misfortune. It is often avoided in weddings and other celebrations, as it is believed to bring bad luck. In addition, many people in China try to avoid phone numbers, license plates, and addresses that contain the number seven.

The Number Nine

The number nine is sometimes considered unlucky in Chinese superstitions, as it sounds similar to the word for “long-lasting” in Chinese, which can imply a prolonged suffering. However, the number nine can also be associated with good luck and fortune, especially when it comes to the Chinese zodiac sign of the dragon, which is considered the luckiest sign of all.

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Unlucky Numbers in Chinese Traditions

The Four Great Inauspicious Numbers

In Chinese traditions, there are four great inauspicious numbers that are associated with bad luck and misfortune. These numbers are: four, six, seven, and ten. The number four, as we have seen, is associated with death and misfortune, while the number six is associated with conflict and battles. The number seven is associated with misfortune and ill health, while the number ten is associated with the end of cycles and life.

The Five Ghosts

In Chinese traditions, there are five ghosts that are associated with different unlucky numbers. The first ghost is associated with the number one, the second ghost with the number two, the third ghost with the number three, the fourth ghost with the number four, and the fifth ghost with the number five. These ghosts are believed to bring misfortune and bad luck to those who encounter them, and many Chinese people try to avoid these numbers at all costs.

FAQs – Unlucky Numbers in China

What are unlucky numbers in China?

In Chinese culture, certain numbers are considered unlucky or bad omens for various reasons. The number 4 is considered the most unlucky number as the pronunciation of “four” in Chinese is similar to the word for “death.” Therefore, it is associated with death, bad luck, and misfortune. The number 13 is also considered unlucky in Chinese culture because it sounds like “definitely alive,” which can be interpreted as a wish for someone to die.

How do unlucky numbers affect daily life in China?

The superstitions surrounding unlucky numbers in China are deeply ingrained in the culture, and many people avoid them whenever possible. For example, in many Chinese hospitals, there is no fourth floor or room number four because it is believed to bring bad luck to patients. Similarly, it is often difficult to sell items with unlucky numbers in China, and many people will try to avoid using them in important phone numbers, addresses, or license plates.

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Are there any lucky numbers in Chinese culture?

Yes, there are several lucky numbers in Chinese culture, including the number 8, which is considered the luckiest number because of its similarity to the word for “prosperity.” Similarly, the number 9 is considered lucky because it sounds like “long-lasting,” which is associated with a long and happy life. The number 6 is also considered lucky because it sounds like “good fortune” in Mandarin Chinese.

Is it common for Chinese people to believe in unlucky numbers?

Yes, belief in unlucky numbers is still prevalent in Chinese culture, and many people take them very seriously. This can be seen in the avoidance of certain numbers and the popularity of lucky numbers in daily life. However, this belief is slowly changing, especially among younger generations who are more open to different beliefs and ideas.

What should I do if I accidentally use an unlucky number in China?

If you accidentally use an unlucky number in China, it is unlikely to cause any real harm or offense, especially if you are a foreigner. However, if you are unsure, it is always best to apologize and explain your mistake to avoid any potential misunderstandings. Ultimately, respecting and understanding the cultural beliefs of others is an important aspect of travel and cross-cultural communication.

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