From Unlucky Number to Forbidden Colours, the Surprising World of Chinese Superstitions.
Updated: Apr 7
When we walk into a lift and want to press the button to the desired floor, most of the time we would notice 4th floor to be labelled as "3A" instead of "4". Or we may have experienced our Chinese friend "scolding" us for writing name using red pen. When these happened, they would say it's superstitious or it's something bad in their belief but have you ever wonder the story behind it? Like "what's so bad about number 4 and name in colour?".
We will take a deep dive into the world of Chinese superstitions, understanding their origins, meanings, and real-life implications. Whether you're a friend looking to avoid offending your Chinese friend unintentionally or just someone interested in learning more about this rich and complex culture, you'll find plenty of insights and surprises in this blog. So join us as we take the magic carpet ride to this mysterious world!
1. Avoid Placing Chopsticks Vertically Into The Rice Bowl
The belief that placing chopsticks vertically in a bowl of rice is bad luck and disrespectful to the deceased is one of the most well-known Chinese superstitions. It's also said to make us unlucky, such as causing hunger and poverty. Chinese typically place their chopsticks flat on a bowl or rest it at the side of their rice bowl to chase away bad luck. Many people adhere to the tradition out of respect for their cultural in the past, even if some people may not believe in the superstition. This demonstrates how tradition and symbolism influence Chinese society, even in everyday life.
2. Unlucky Number Four
Due to its indirect connection to death, the number 4 is seen as unlucky in Chinese culture. Since the Chinese term for "four" which is 四 (sì) has a similar pronunciation to the word for "death" which is pronounced as 死 (sǐ). If you are learning Mandarin or have learned Mandarin, you would notice the only difference between the two words are the tone. One is said in 2nd tone while another one is using 4th tone. Nevertheless, many neighborhoods and buildings technically don't have a fourth floor because they would label it as "3A". Some people might go to the extent of avoiding 4 in their car plate number or phone number. This superstition is a remarkable illustration of how cultural connections may influence attitudes and decision making though it might not seems impactful.
3. Don't Write Name in Red Color
It is typically known that red is Chinese's symbolic and favourite colour, red is connected with good fortune and happiness in Chinese culture but with one exception: using red ink to write a person's name. Back in the day, the names of the deceased are customarily written in red ink in ancestral documents and the names of criminals to be executed would be written using chicken blood. Hence, using red to write a living person name is regarded as rude and unlucky. Black ink is therefore favoured for writing names since it is regarded as more official and respectable. The significance of colour connections and symbolism in Chinese culture, as well as how they affect daily routines, are demonstrated through this cultural practise.
There you have it, then! Chinese superstitions are an important aspect of their legacy as a culture. These beliefs stem from the Chinese people's strong respect for the tremendous powers in the universe that provide good fortune and prosperity. Those practices are rich in symbolism and significance, whether it is avoiding the number 4 or not writing names in red ink. They may seem a little strange to some, but they provide a fascinating look into the past and spiritual foundations of Chinese civilization.
We shall try to appreciate Chinese culture more and how it affects the lives of millions of people globally by recognizing and understanding these superstitions. It is a distinctive and fascinating feature of this rich and diverse community. Do you know any other infamous Chinese superstitious?