Superstitions in China are a part of every day life. The Chinese put great belief in symbols and signs, both the lucky and unlucky. Many words in Chinese sound similar to each other, though their meaning and characters are different. Because Chinese put a great emphasis on these homophones, they are the basis for many superstitions. For example, the word for "eight" sounds similar to the word for "wealth"or "prosper", making the number eight the luckiest number in Chinese culture. Similarly, the number four is the unluckiest number because it sounds like the word for death.
Lucky symbols often adorn items from clothing and jewelry to pottery and papercuts. The Chinese characters for bats and fish sound similar to the characters for wealth and abundance and are often used as auspicious symbols. Bronze vases and vessels are also symbols of good fortune. Bronze is similar to "goldlike" and the word for vase sounds like peace.
Chinese New Year
Perhaps more than any other time of the year, Chinese New Year
is a time consumed with superstitions. People believe that what you say, wear, and how you act can all contribute to the type of upcoming year that you will have. These are just some of the Chinese New Year superstitions:
- Cleaning and sweeping is strictly forbidden. Chinese believe that doing this will sweep your good luck right out the door.
- In Hong Kong, bookshops are closed. The word for "book"is a homonym for "lose".
- Avoid buying shoes during the holiday because "shoes" is a homonym for "rough".
- Pay off any debts before the new year because if you start the year in debt, that's how you'll end it.
- Refrain from talking about ghosts or telling any stories about death. This is considered very unlucky.
- Red can be seen everywhere during the Chinese New Year. It is considered the luckiest color.
- Eating candies is said to bring a sweeter year.
- Opening the widows during the New Year will let in good luck.
- Sharp objects can bring bad luck since their sharp points can cut out your good luck.
Other Chinese Superstitions
In addition to holidays, many superstitions are applicable every day. Below is a list of some of the more common superstitions:
- Never praise a newborn baby because it will invite evil spirits.
- A concave navel means a prosperous life.
- A baby with wide and thick ears will live prosperously.
- It is bad luck to have two doors in a house facing each other.
- Don't build a house facing the north.
- Wearing blue, black, or gray to a wedding will bring bad luck.
- Mirrors must be hidden during funerals. Anyone catching a reflection of the coffin will have a death in the family.
- The color red brings happiness, wealth, and good luck.
- A dog howling continuously at night means there's been a death.
- It is bad luck to have a mustache.
- Having a pet turtle will slow down your business.
While many traditional Chinese superstitions are no longer believed, many are still practiced because they are seen as a tradition and a way to connect with the past.