Number Chinese Guide

Tietgens Collegie nr. 16

Number Chinese Guide

Numbers In Chinese Culture

All cultures in the world have their own superstitions, that to outsiders appear strange. Superstitions are often deeply rooted in the history of the culture and religion.
Friday, February 24, 2017

Why does numbers have a symbolic importance in Chinese culture?

In Chinese tradition, many people are very superstitious about the symbolic meaning of numbers. The symbolic meaning of numbers are related to Fengshui and related to homophones in the Chinese language. Homophones are words that are spell different, but are pronounced alike. The words 'vær', 'hver', 'værd' and 'vejr' are mutually homophones.

So if the sound of the number sound similar to something negative, it is considered to be extremely unlucky, and vice-versa if the sound of the number sounds similar to something positive, it means luck.

It might sound “silly” for you to take numbers into account when ex. accommodate Chinese guests, however avoiding the unlucky numbers, will enhancethe experience of your Chinese guests stay in your country and city.


Lucky numbers

8: The number eight (八, pinyin: ba) is perceived as a lucky number because “ba” sound familiar with “发pinyin: fa” which means wealth, prosper and fortune in China. Thus this is also a favorite number among business people.´

9: the number nine (久, pinyin: jiu) is perceived as a lucky number because it means everlasting and longtivity. In Chinese culture, the number 9 is associated with the Emperor of China. You can spot that the Emperor's clothes have nine dragons and the Beijing Forbidden City has 9,999 and a half rooms. Also, is you want to express eternal love, you give your lover 99, 999 roses


Multiples of Two:

2: Multiplbes of 2 bring harmony, as such, many Chinese decorate with items that come in two. The character for double “双” pronounced” shuang” and means harmony and presents the meaning that “good things come in pairs”.

6: The number six (六, pinyin: liù) is perceived as a lucky number, as when pronounces its sounds similar to the word "顺利" (Shunli) for something that goes smoothly and continuously

 

Odd Numbers:

There are many different explanations to why multiple of 3 is important in Chinese culture. The simplest explanation is that the pronunciation of the number 3 in Chinese is "San" 三, and its homophonic with the word for birth "生 (Sheng). In addition, according to Chinese culture, there are three significant events in a man's life: birth, marriage and death

In ancient Chinese culture, numbers went from 1-9, and were then divided into 3 groups of 3. The number three in China often means "many".

许慎 xǔ shen, author of 说文解字 Shuo Wen Jiezi, an original He Dictionary, wrote that "san" 三  or 3 was » heaven, earth and human « and that Chengu 成语  »三 缄其口 « (San Jian Qi kǒu) meant to "be silent many times". He also referred to characters that comes in three refers to "the many of anything" - for example 森 (Sen) the character for a forest, has 3 trees and means' many trees'.

Within Buddhist culture, the number 3 represents Buddha. People rang the bell three times and used 3 sticks when praying.

There are many more examples of 3’s in Chinese history and culture, such as the Three Ancient Moral Guidelines, that taught rules on obedience, The Three Kingdoms of Wu, Wei and Shu, and a modern example of the Three Gorges Dam. 


Unlucky Numbers

4: The number 4 (四, pinyin: sì) is perceived to bring bad luck. 


Tips: Avoid giving Chinese guests a room number where the number 4 is involved, and especially not on floor 4!

Even numbers are preferred over odd numbers. In Chinese culture harmony and balance is very important, thus even numbers are preferred over odd numbers.

Do utilize the number 2, 6, 8 and 9 as it brings luck. Also double 8, (88) means double luck.

Lucky numbers in Business:

Lucky numbers are extremely important in business in China. Selecting a “lucky” day to host your event, sign a contract, or celebrate a grand opening - is believed to bring luck. If the day includes a 9, this means the business will be permanent. If the day includes a 6 the venture will be successful.

 

Provide informational material and presentations in Chinese of your attraction or your city. Contact Dan Schou on dsc@woco.dk for free Chinese maps of Copenhagen. Read more here: Copenhagen City Map


Share this page

Chinese Cooking Tutorials

What do the Chinese eat? We have selected six easy-to-make recipes for classic Chinese breakfast items accompanied by tutorial videos