Articles about some common Chinese customs. China expats might wonder why Chinese like number 8 but dislike number 4. Why fish, peanuts, and more...
Chinese really like number 8. Why Chinese like some numbers and don't like certain numbers?
Many of these reasons are based on similar sound 谐音. Say below for examples.
8 is a desired number. 8 is pronounced “ba”, in the southern China, because of the dialect, it’s pronounced closed to 发 “fa” which has good meanings. So for example, many businesses open on the date of 18. One way of pronouncing 1 is yao, so 18 pronunciation is similar to “yao fa” or “will develop!”.
Another example: 168 is also very much likes because it sounds like 一路发 “yi lu fa” or growing/develop all the way.
As we know, Chinese don’t really like 4. That's because 4 (si) sounds like 死 (si, death).
In the past, the emperors really like number 9 because it's the highest possible integer. Pay attention many in the forbidden city has number 9. Like the number of the rooms: 9999.5 (they on purpose didn't finish one room), the numbers of dots on the doors, horizontal and vertical, are 9.
1. Some customs don’t like to share pear （梨）because it sounds like分离 or separated, divided. So among friends sharing pear would sound like they will leaving/divided.
2. Some customs in the fishery business, when eating fish and want to turn over the fish shouldn’t say “翻过来” because it sounds like a boat is turn over.
3. For married couple, some like to give 枣(Chinese date)，栗子(chestnut), since it sounds similar to 早立子 or hope to have children soon. And also give 花生 (peanut) to imply 花着生 or have both boys and girls.
4. Serve big chicken （鸡, ji） and chestnut (栗, li) since it can be read大鸡大栗which is similar to 大吉大利 or lots of lucks.
5. We see many Chinese put a 福 sign upside down, why is that? Because that’s read similar as 福到， or luck is coming. There’s another story in this regards to: in the past, emperor came to a village, everyone posts 福 at the door, but one old couple put it wrong, put it upside down. When the emperor saw it, he stopped by and asked why. The person was afraid and found an excuse to explain his error, he said because he hoped to be different from others so the emperor noticed and stopped by in his humble house. The emperor was pleased. Since then people tried to imitate the conduct.
6. Fish. There’s a lot of picture for fish
because fish 鱼 （yu）
sounds similar with 余 (surplus).
7. Fireworks: big ones on the new year's eve, also you can observe during wedding day, store opening day, and more. A tradition for thousand of years because it's believed that fireworks send bad spirits away. On new year's eve, don't sleep :) my tip for living in China is to observe the firework. Especially grand from tall building/kondo/apt. The whole city is covered by fireworks especially starting around new year's eve 1150PM.
Copyright 2009 KellyElin. All rights reserved.
Last updated 2016