In China, It’s All About the Numbers
Posted on August 25, 2008
Why are the Chinese so attracted to numbers? Do they hold the key to ancient secrets or are they merely an odd fixation?
The Chinese believe that some numbers are lucky and some aren’t, as do their counterparts throughout the world.
The difference is that lucky numbers are a big industry in China where people can actually select their own phone numbers, license plates, and other random things, which is an expensive, as well as lucky, purchase.
In China, numbers are often integrated with sounds and have associative meanings. For example, the number eight is considered the luckiest number of all because it is pronounced “ba” which sounds like “fa”, the Chinese word for prosperity.
House numbers and telephone numbers containing the number eight are extremely sought after, and it is no coincidence that the Beijing Olympics began on 08/08/2008 at 8pm.
Conversely, the number four is considered bad luck because it is pronounced “si” which is similar to the Chinese word for death.
When ordering dishes in a Chinese restaurant, the courses are usually even-numbered, such as four, six, eight, etc. It is also customary if a guest visits a home bearing a gift of fruit the number will be even.
When buying apartments in China, those that are on even numbered floors are always the first to sell out. The fourth floor, on the other hand, is usually the cheapest, and usually foreigners, oblivious to the number’s connotations, occupy it.
The number six is considered very lucky, because the pronunciation sounds like the word for “flow”, suggesting that everything will go very smoothly.
The car license plate “AC6688″ recently sold for 80,000Y ($11,700 US dollars).
The number two is lucky as well, because it suggests harmonious existence and reproduction.
Some odd numbers are also considered favorable. Five is very significant because it relates to the five elements of Feng Shui (metal, wood, water, fire and earth), the five basic colors (red, green, yellow, black and white) and the five tastes (sweet, sour, salty bitter and pungent).
The number one is favored by young lovers and is exemplified in the Chinese idiom, “one heart and one soul.” A man will usually send one flower to his beloved to express undivided love or he may send nine (jiu), which is a homonym for the word denoting forever.
The number seven has experienced a bit of a renaissance as it was traditionally associated with anger. In recent years it has become more acceptable as it sounds a little bit like the words for “wife” or “family”.
What’s in a number?
Who can say, but do YOU dare to find out?