Chinese Lucky Numbers

Last updated by david at 2014-4-8

A man with his lucky car number A man with his lucky car number

In China, whether a number is considered lucky or not is often related to the similarity between the pronunciation of the number (i.e., its sound byte) and the sound byte of another word which carries a positive connotation.  Though such association may seem silly to an outsider, the question is whether this is any sillier than any other justification for holding a particular, non-scientific belief about the luckiness or unluckiness of any given number (think of the number 13 in Western culture, and how potent is the belief associated with its negativeness).

The role of numbers in determining luck

The role of numbers in determining luck has a long history in Chinese culture. For example, it is said that in the Forbidden City there are 9999 rooms. When buying a house or choosing a telephone number or a license plate number for one's automobile, the choice is generally made with an eye to the perceived luckiness of the available numbers.

The number 2 is considered lucky because 'all good things come in pairs', it has been observed. The number 6 is an example of the sound byte association mentioned above: "six" is pronounced "liu" in Mandarin Chinese, which sound byte is close to the sound byte for the Mandarin Chinese word which means "flowing, smooth, or frictionless", therefore the number 6 is considered very lucky, especially where it occurs in multiples. So highly is the number 6 prized, in fact, that a motorcycle dealership in Zengcheng in Guangdong Province paid the net sum of RMB 272,000 (USD $34,000) for a motorcycle license plate bearing the number AW6666.

The Number 8

Lucky number 8 Lucky number 8

The number 8 is considered extremely lucky, perhaps partly owing to its unique symmetry, and perhaps partly owing to the fact that the 8, laid on its side, resembles the Greek symbol for infinity. Additionally, in Mandarin Chinese, the sound byte for "eight" is close to that for "prosperity, wealth", while in Cantonese it is similar to the sound byte for "fortune".

To give an idea of how highly the number 8 is prized, the telephone number 8888-8888 was sold for a sum corresponding to USD $270,723 in Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan Province. Even the Chinese government got caught up in the euphoria over the number 8 in this olympic year, 2008: the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing began on the eigth of August (08/08/08), at precisely 8 minutes and 8 seconds past 8 PM, local Beijing time! Learn how to speak eight in Chinese

The Number 9

Lucky number 9 Lucky number 9

Though even numbers are generally considered luckier than the odd ones, one odd number, the 9, is considered especially propitious. This is partly owing to the fact that the number 9 has traditionally been associated with the emperor (viz. the number of rooms in the Forbidden City) and partly owing to the fact that the sound byte for "nine" is close to that for the word "longlasting". Learn How to Speak Nine in Chinese.

Unlucky Numbers in Chinese Culture

Unlucky number 4 Unlucky number 4

While the focus in China is overwhelmingly on lucky numbers, there are certain numbers that are considered unlucky and which belief, or superstition, has real consequences, much as similar beliefs/ superstitions sometimes have real consequences in Western culture, where the 13th floor is occasionally missing from a tall building.

In China (and in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam), the number 4 is considered ghastly unlucky because its sound byte is almost identical to that for the word "death". Consequently, Nokia phones in China do not have a series beginning with the number 4, and similar electronic devices, from PDAs to digital cameras, are lacking a series that is either designated "4" or begins with a "4", and some high-rise buildings lack a fourth floor.

There are a few other numbers that are considered outright unlucky in Chinese culture, but these often depend more on a local dialect, via sound byte associations, than do the lucky numbers, which are the main focus in today's China. Learn How to Speak Four in Chinese

Numerology in China

Numerology has always been an important consideration to the Chinese. When a Chinese buys a house or a car he makes sure its number is auspicious, because an auspicious number is believed to bring good fortune and an inauspicious number ill luck.

Some numbers are more significant than others and some combine harmoniously with others while causing disharmony when used with some other numbers. Odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) are yang while even (2, 4, 6, 8) yin. When a yin number is combined with a yang number it forms a balanced number pair.

Chinese Numbers
Chinese Numbers

The odd numbers are generally less favourable than the peers because the Chinese consider that the good things must be always repeated. So, it is needed to offer two presents when people are invited to a dinner or to a birthday. The Chinese also never choose the second day of the month calendar to organize funeral. Indeed, they consider that the burial is a very sad event and that it should not thus arrive twice in a brief interval of time. If a sad event takes place the second day of the month it means that it will reproduce a second time during the day.

The number 3 is significant since there are three important stages in a man’s life (his birth, his marriage and his death). But the sound of a number is also important. For example, the number 4 is inauspicious because it sounds like “si” (die), while 8, which sound like “fa” (luck), and 9, which sound like “jiu” (longevity), are lucky.

3

“Yi” (1) is a yang number representing the direction north and the water element. 

“Er” (2) is a yin number symbolising the fire element, the south and the two complementary forces, yin and yang. 

“San” (3) is a yang number categorised with wood and the east. It sounds like “sheng” (growth), and therefore is a popular number. 

As mentioned earlier, “si” (4) sounds like “si” (die) in Cantonese and is avoided. It is for the Chinese the worst of all the figures. 

It is in fact really terrible to attribute the figure 4 to something. Generally, the numbers of doors as well as the number of cars plates do not contain such a figure and especially not on the last place of a number! In Hong-Kong, it is possible to choose its phone number in a list of available numbers. The numbers containing the figure 4 are thus often given to foreigners, little or not conscious of the meaning of this figure for the Asian.

In Hong-Kong, numerous buildings do not possess the floors of which the numbers can contain the figure 4. You pass directly from the 3rd floor to the 5th! And "if unfortunately", there is the fourth floor in a residence, it has strong probability to be at a cheaper rental fee. What makes the happiness of all those who are not superstitious!

“Wu” (5) is a yang and lucky number and it has been used to classify many aspects of Chinese things such as the elements, the senses and the basic colours.

Liu” (6) is a yin number symbolising the element water, and the north.

Qi” (7) is a yang number and it sounds like “shi” (sure) in Cantonese. It is related to the five elements and the south.

Ba” (8) symbolises the element wood, east and it sounds like “fa” (luck). 

It is the “lucky charm” figure of the Chinese. You will thus understand why, the figure 8 was in honour of the Olympics of Beijing which began the 08/08/08 at 08:08 am! According to a belief from Canton, where the figure is pronounced "fa", it brings prosperity and balance.

Lucky Numbers

 “Fa cai” means “accumulate some money ". Chinese are ready to put the full price to pick up the famous 8 and see representing one or even some 8 on the license plate of their vehicle, in their phone number … Mineralogical plates carrying a combination of 8 are moreover sold by auction by the Hong-Kong government. In 2006, a license plate wearing the figure “888” was sold about 30.000 dollars. 

But be careful! 8, is good but not for all the occasions! Indeed, the Chinese character which represents 8 is constituted by two lines which form an elbow downward and which go in the opposite direction one of the other one. In Chinese, it means "separation" or "divorce". Although the figure 8 is favourable for almost everything in China, it carries misfortune to the married or loving women. In Guangdong and Hong-Kong, the figure 8 is moreover used to appoint an old woman …

Jiu” (9) symbolises longevity, the element metal and west. 

It is a very popular figure for its long-term character. It is appropriate to sign a contract the 9th, 19th or 29th of the month; it will be seen as sign of sustainable relation with the partner. Many weddings in China take place in September, in the hope the marriage can continue as long as possible.

The figure 9 had a particular meaning in ancient China. Indeed, the Chinese of this period considered the odd numbers as male and the even numbers as feminine. 9 being the number in the highest figure, it represented for them the “ultimate masculinity” and symbolized the supreme sovereignty of the emperor. So, 9 or its multiple are often used on the imperial architectures.

The Forbidden City of Beijing counts according to the legend, 9, 999 rooms (in reality, 8, 704, according to a study led in 1973). The number 9,999 is understandable because according to the tradition, only the divinities had the right to build a palace including 10 000 rooms. The human beings, therefore, tried to get as near as possible from their ideal of perfection. While the figure 9 is symbol of longevity, the number 10 000 represents symbolically “a countable infinity.

The Forbidden City
Hall of Supreme Harmony, Forbidden City, Beijing

The symbolic meaning of numbers inclined the design of monuments, such as the bridge shown below, the Seventeen-Arch Bridge: seventeen is the sum of nine plus eight. As already mentioned, the nine symbolized the emperor, whereas the eight was and still is regarded as a very lucky number: a Chinese architect would never suggest a four-arch bridge, because number four is a very unlucky number. In this specific case the influence of numbers led to the design of a very elegant bridge which is characterized by the gradual reduction of the size of the arches.

Seventeen-Arch Bridge
 
Seventeen-Arch Bridge

Another example of this influence is the Heaven Temple天坛 (Tiāntán) located in the South of Beijing.

The important or 'lucky' numbers in Chinese numerology 3 and 9 are repetitive in the layout and design; once again, the number 9, being the highest value digit, is associated with the emperor. Its square root, 3, has a natural resonance in terms of beginning, middle and end; introduction, development and conclusion.

We find everywhere in the conception of the temple the 9, in the number of steps, balustrades, circles of paving stones, nails on doors and probably other details which are always a multiple and especially in the design of the Circular Mound Altar圜丘坛 (Yuánqiū Tán): a single round marmor plate is surrounded by a ring of nine plates, then a ring of 18 plates, and so on for a total of nine surrounding rings, the outermost having 9×9 plates.

The Heaven Temple
The Heaven Temple

“Shi” (10) is a yin number.

Influenced by the western faiths, 13 also became a misfortune figure in numerous Chinese spirits although this did not become a "standard" yet. Numerous upper-class hotels of Hong-Kong lack a thirteenth floor.

Although the faiths in good and bad numbers are considered as superstitions today, numerous of Chinese, coming from various social origins, still respects them.

The Nine-Dragon Screen,Beijing
The Nine-Dragon Screen,Beijing

Chinese dragons are often associated to the number 9. For example, a Chinese dragon is generally described in terms of nine attributes and has usually 117 scales - 81 (9x9) males and 36 (9x4) females. It is also why there are nine forms of the dragon and that the dragon has nine children.

The idea of numbers in Feng Shui is also an important concept as part of the tradition and practice.

Literally meaning “wind and water”, Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese practice of positioning objects and buildings in harmony with nature to ensure good fortune. Often referred as geomancy, its origins lay in an ancient Chinese respect for the environment, a belief that cosmological influences strongly affect our lives.

The meaning of the Feng Shui numbers is as follows:

- #1 means frequent trips and fluctuations in fortune throughout the year;

- #2  denotes  illness, sadness, depression;

- #3 leads to quarrels, law suits, financial loss, conflicts, robbery;

- #4  is conductive to success in studying, examinations and promotions, interpersonal relationships, competitions and elections; 

- #5  symbolizes disaster: illness, bad health, traffic accidents, surgery, divorce,    bankruptcy;

- #6 represents authority and power;

- #7  is neutral and depends on prevailing dominant star;

- #8  connotes prospects, wealth, good for everything;

- #9 signifies marriage, romance, and giving birth.

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There are 67 comments on this topic

posted by "67.185.8.*" at 2014-4-5 19:21:00

My sister-in-law said the house we bought 17704 was very bad and she was right! We went thru bankruptcy and lost the house to the bank anyway. I don't even look at a house now with a 4 in the address!

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posted by "75.109.180.*" at 2014-4-5 0:17:00

I constantly see 444 at least 3 times a day... But I'm not Asian....does this mean same.

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posted by "70.50.214.*" at 2014-4-3 9:38:00

I'm looking at a house whose number is 144, is this still considered unlucky because of the 4's?

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posted by "68.203.14.*" at 2014-4-2 21:04:00

hi

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posted by "122.62.74.*" at 2014-4-2 5:39:00

16 house

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posted by "69.141.102.*" at 2014-4-1 17:19:00

12

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posted by "69.141.102.*" at 2014-4-1 17:19:00

12

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posted by "101.119.26.*" at 2014-3-28 3:25:00

633

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70.69.161.* replied at 2014-3-29 16:54:00

i have recently purchased a unit with the numbers 604 should i be concerned

posted by "203.194.115.*" at 2014-3-27 10:03:00

3589

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posted by "203.194.115.*" at 2014-3-27 9:49:00

3589

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posted by "203.113.213.5, 202.45.119.*" at 2014-2-25 21:50:00

did somebody say... Applesauce????

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posted by "203.113.213.5, 202.45.119.*" at 2014-2-25 21:50:00

did somebody say... Applesauce????

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posted by "203.113.213.5, 202.45.119.*" at 2014-2-25 21:44:00

i like big butts and i cannot lie

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posted by "203.113.213.5, 202.45.119.*" at 2014-2-25 21:44:00

i like big butts and i cannot lie

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posted by "203.113.213.5, 202.45.119.*" at 2014-2-25 21:44:00

i like big butts and i cannot lie

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posted by "219.92.35.*" at 2014-1-30 23:16:00

8853

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posted by "219.92.35.*" at 2014-1-30 23:16:00

8853

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posted by "117.195.150.*" at 2014-1-24 3:27:00

Thanks for your fantastic article about names. My secret for happy and content life is numerology and I got my readings from below site. Name numerology is among those topics that will raise a few eyebrows

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117.198.149.* replied at 2014-2-3 16:56:00

posted by "117.195.150.*" at 2014-1-24 3:26:00

Thanks for your fantastic article about names. My secret for happy and content life is numerology and I got my readings from below site. Name numerology is among those topics that will raise a few eyebrows

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posted by "116.15.68.40, 220.255.2.*" at 2014-1-14 11:59:00

7012

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posted by "116.15.68.40, 220.255.2.*" at 2014-1-14 11:59:00

7012

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posted by "mommyj" at 2014-1-11 13:47:00

I'm thinking of buying a home, address is 4404. They are asking 144,900.00. What can I offer to make this lucky??? Are 4's unlucky when alone or worse when more then one are together? Thanks!

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posted by "mommyj" at 2014-1-11 13:43:00

Thinking of buying a home and the address is 4404. The asking price is 144, 900.00. The number 4 is unlucky? How can these numbers best work for me? What would be a lucky price for me to offer for this home?

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posted by "mommyj" at 2014-1-11 13:43:00

Thinking of buying a home and the address is 4404. The asking price is 144, 900.00. The number 4 is unlucky? How can these numbers best work for me? What would be a lucky price for me to offer for this home?

reply

posted by "mommyj" at 2014-1-11 13:43:00

Thinking of buying a home and the address is 4404. The asking price is 144, 900.00. The number 4 is unlucky? How can these numbers best work for me? What would be a lucky price for me to offer for this home?

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posted by "24.4.29.*" at 2014-1-6 17:24:00

I am going to buy house and the numbers 205. is this a lucky number or not please reply soon

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david replied at 2014-1-8 0:57:00

Not bad

posted by "24.4.29.*" at 2014-1-6 17:23:00

I am going to buy house and the numbers 205. is this a lucky number or not please reply soon

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posted by "24.4.29.*" at 2014-1-6 17:23:00

I am going to buy house and the numbers 205. is this a lucky number or not please reply soon

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posted by "112.206.81.*" at 2014-1-6 9:36:00

Im confusing pls. Help me to decide I have to choises blk. 25 lot 52 second choises blk 19 lot 01b 7

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posted by "70.243.55.*" at 2014-1-2 19:51:00

ARE MY OFFICE NUMBER 5615 AND MY HOME 13802 GOOD NUMBERS? THE YEAR 2013 WAS ONE OF MY WORST FOR BUSINESS

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posted by "70.243.55.*" at 2014-1-2 19:51:00

ARE MY OFFICE NUMBER 5615 AND MY HOME 13802 GOOD NUMBERS? THE YEAR 2013 WAS ONE OF MY WORST FOR BUSINESS

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92.97.147.* replied at 2014-1-3 4:13:00

my date of bith 2 my date of birth 10.4.1955. what is my lucky number,

92.97.147.* replied at 2014-1-3 4:13:00

my date of bith 2 my date of birth 10.4.1955. what is my lucky number,

posted by "mayssweety" at 2013-12-23 21:06:00

hi my house number is b30 l50 is it bad numbers pls reply thankyou

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posted by "mayssweety" at 2013-12-23 21:06:00

hi my house number is b30 l50 is it bad numbers pls reply thankyou

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posted by "124.86.194.*" at 2013-12-22 20:25:00

is 1014 a lucky number? that's my house number

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posted by "174.3.139.*" at 2013-12-19 11:25:00

this is my sons birthday 121313 is that lucky ? any lucky charm for this to take out the bad vibes.

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67.10.168.* replied at 2013-12-21 13:06:00

Time and common sense? You do the math

posted by "88.105.20.*" at 2013-12-10 12:32:00

is 0 a ok number

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david replied at 2013-12-10 18:52:00

0 usually has no particular meaning, but some time has the same pronunciation with the word "you", for example, 520 means "I love you!" :)

99.238.66.* replied at 2013-12-15 11:19:00

o lucky it means wealth the money ends with 0

posted by "mabs" at 2013-12-6 1:54:00

hi..my house number is block 3 lot 16..is it a good number?

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david replied at 2013-12-9 20:02:00

not bad!

posted by "49.147.207.*" at 2013-12-6 1:50:00

hi..my house number is block 3 lot 16..is it a good number?

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posted by "49.147.207.*" at 2013-12-6 1:50:00

hi..my house number is block 3 lot 16..is it a good number?

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posted by "112.207.129.*" at 2013-12-4 7:57:00

the plate number of four wheel vehicle is 989, is it lucky?

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posted by "172.30.12.*" at 2013-11-30 5:18:00

my house number is 2606 is it lucky?

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david replied at 2013-12-2 2:07:00

Good number!

posted by "68.111.239.*" at 2013-11-20 17:03:00

Is 4,500 a good number since it adds up to 9? Not sure if it's about the addition or just the numbers that reside in a larger number?

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david replied at 2013-12-2 2:09:00

44 is not good for Chinese culture though 4+4=8

posted by "76.174.190.*" at 2013-11-14 11:46:00

oh no. I am doomed. My house number has 2 fours. But since pairs are lucky, I may be lucky...in death? :/

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posted by "122.111.238.*" at 2013-11-11 2:09:00

lucky number for Capricorn to book driving test

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posted by "115.164.236.*" at 2013-9-29 0:51:00

Post Your Comment Here. I like it dear Sir you are choice lucky number

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posted by "81.100.7.*" at 2013-9-26 6:12:00

If I have the number 22, do I add them together to make 4? or do I leave it as 22?

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49.181.236.* replied at 2013-10-13 8:17:00

posted by "81.100.7.*" at 2013-9-26 6:09:00

If I have the number 22, do I add them together to make 4? or do I leave it as 22?

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david replied at 2013-11-14 19:18:00

Keep it!

posted by "81.100.7.*" at 2013-9-26 6:06:00

If I have the number 22, do I add them together to make 4? or do I leave it as 22?

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posted by "192.168.1.*" at 2013-9-26 4:29:00

yesterday i took some of your numbers and i was surprise this morning - i've won in our national lottery.

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posted by "192.168.1.*" at 2013-9-26 4:29:00

yesterday i took some of your numbers and i was surprise this morning - i've won in our national lottery.

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posted by "69.171.163.*" at 2013-9-18 17:04:00

which Chinese master or something liked the number 9 and made the dragon wall the color yellow but not red????? :)

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posted by "69.171.163.*" at 2013-9-18 17:04:00

which Chinese master or something liked the number 9 and made the dragon wall the color yellow but not red????? :)

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posted by "64.233.140.*" at 2013-9-13 12:51:00

Stfu

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posted by "101.119.14.*" at 2013-9-11 5:37:00

Is 24 a good number?

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69.171.163.* replied at 2013-9-18 17:05:00

i like the number"69" crazyyyyyyy...................

posted by "101.119.14.*" at 2013-9-11 5:28:00

Is 24 a good number?

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david replied at 2013-9-16 1:50:00

not bad

posted by "98.210.16.*" at 2013-8-8 2:52:00

IF YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED DO YOU AD MONTH, DAY, YEAR TO GET THE FINAL NUMBER?

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david replied at 2013-8-19 3:02:00

Usually we care about date and month, year is not a problem.

posted by "98.210.16.*" at 2013-8-8 2:52:00

IF YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED DO YOU AD MONTH, DAY, YEAR TO GET THE FINAL NUMBER?

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posted by "120.128.6.*" at 2013-6-2 21:27:00

In buildings your 4th floor is really the 3rd floor in the UK and 13th floor the 12th floor, as your 1st floor is our ground floor. So I am happy that the 3rd floor (your 4th floor) is generally cheaper to rent. It doesn't say much for the residents of your 5th floor who are on our 4th floor, does it?

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posted by "203.97.59.*" at 2013-5-27 3:30:00

Is this combination of numbers good? I see them a lot. Am I going to die??? :)

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david replied at 2013-5-29 3:54:00

Why you are going to die, dude? What you see may not what you get! Just be yourself, do not believe these, no one can control your life except God. P.S. 918 is lucky in Chinese culture, which means you are going to be rich. Believe or not? It's all up to you. But I don't.

posted by "5.38.184.*" at 2012-12-30 17:30:00

Dear(s) the 20-9727277 is a good telephone-number? I've read on other websites that the number 7 is the second worst after the 4. Is this true? Thank you!

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david replied at 2013-5-29 3:47:00

Yes, for Chinese people, they don't like No. 7, as it means "sad". But don't worry, God created the numbers, they are all good! I don't think there are so called lucky numbers or unlucky numbers.

posted by "203.217.145.*" at 2012-12-28 1:46:00

I wanted to know if 1104 is lucky or not, thank you

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posted by "197.87.130.*" at 2012-11-16 4:41:00

I don't feel the need to throw a huge party for this 'milestone'. I think I'm waiting for 41 rather. Do Chinese people celebrate their 40th birthdays in as big a way as Westerners?

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posted by "197.87.130.*" at 2012-11-16 4:39:00

I've always been told that these are extremely lucky ages and big birthdays to celebrate. Why is that?

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posted by "197.87.130.*" at 2012-11-16 4:38:00

I've always been told that these are extremely lucky ages and big birthdays to celebrate. Why is that?

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posted by "173.169.128.*" at 2012-8-14 2:39:00

i was just wondering

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david replied at 2012-8-20 2:41:00

These are normal numbers, the more 8s, the luckier it would be.

219.73.1.* replied at 2012-10-3 12:37:00

42 is bad luck as it means "die easy".

posted by "75.10.123.*" at 2011-8-20 9:49:00

reply

david replied at 2012-1-18 19:55:00

what did you mean?

posted by "84.93.136.*" at 2011-6-3 3:04:00

Hi, What a super article and fantastic website. I have linked to this article here: How to get lucky. I will be linking to your articles on TCM too. Thak you for this great resource!

reply

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