#110 Chinese Numbers and Superstitions
Similar to how Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in the West, the East also has their own superstitions with numbers. Some may think they are just numbers but during festivals and even in daily life, the Chinese are still pretty loyal to these superstitions. These superstitions has continued from history and assimilated into the culture today.
二 also has the meaning of double, or 双. Hence there is an idiom which goes 好事成双 – good things comes in a pair. This is also why it is common to present gifts in pairs in the Chinese culture. 双喜 or 囍 means double happiness, which is often used as decoration in traditional Chinese marriage.
六 symbolises smoothness. 六六大顺 means to say that everything is going smoothly.
Chinese people also put more importance into celebrating the 60th birthday, or 六十大寿. At this age, one usually has a happy big family filled with children and grandchildren. Hence, it is an age to feel proud and fulfilled.
八, pronounced as bā, is probably the most popular lucky number. It rhymes with 发 (fā), which means 发财 or to get rich. 八 is hence often used in congratulatory messages, especially during Lunar New Year. Some phrases are 八方来财 (to get rich) and 八方鸿运 (to have best of luck). Sometime people just say 888, like a slang, which also wishes someone or oneself to get rich. Items with 8 on it are also more expensive, such as car plates and phone numbers. You might be surprise to know that people are willing to pay more just for this particular number!
4, 四 is hands down, the most unlucky number. It sounds like the word death – 死 (sǐ), both having the same Hanyu Pinyin but different tone (so be careful of pronunciation!). The Chinese often avoid talking about the topic of death, considering it to be unlucky and uncomfortable. It is also no surprise to come across buildings that do not have the fourth floor, or people avoiding dates which include the number ( 4th April 2004, 4/4/2004 would be considered a bad date!)
While numbers and bad luck have no scientific evidence, it is deeply rooted in people’s minds. In daily life and when giving gifts, these are some things to be more sensitive to.