Chinese Lucky Numbers

Although nowadays beliefs in lucky and unlucky numbers are often regarded as superstitious, millions of Chinese people, from various social and ethnic groups, still hold such beliefs. A number is an important tool in accessing Chinese culture. Knowing the implicit meanings behind numbers will not only help you explain some unique situations in Chinese society but will also lead you to the wellspring of ancient Chinese wisdom.

Chinese Lucky Numbers For 2021

Numbers in China range between auspicious and ominous mainly depending on the similarity between its pronunciation and that of another word that carries a positive or negative connotation.

For example, the most commonly used Chinese New Year lucky numbers are 6 and 8, because 6 is similar to “溜 liu” in Chinese, meaning “smooth”, so 66 means “everything goes well”; 8 is lucky as well because its pronunciation is similar to that of the word “发 fa” in “发财”, which means to make a fortune.

Lucky or Not

What are the Chinese Luckiest Numbers?

Chinese Luckiest Numbers and their uses

2 Uses in China

2, pronounced “er”, is considered lucky because “all good things come in pairs”. The theory of Chinese Feng Shui posits that the TWO features yin and yang are complementary forces of all things in the world. Among young people in China, number two has become a popular adjective to describe frank, innocent, reckless personality. They believe “er” reflects a positive attitude towards life.

  • In a traditional Chinese wedding, the new couple’s house and the restaurant will be decorated with 囍 paper-cuts, symbolizing double-luck.
  • “Er bai wu” is Chinese for “two hundred and fifty”. On most occasions, it is not used to praise, but to refer to someone as stupid. This is unrelated, however, to the general luckiness of the number 2.

6 Uses in China

6 is pronounced “liu” in Mandarin Chinese, and this sounds like the Mandarin Chinese word meaning “flowing, smooth, or frictionless”. Therefore, the number 6 has the meaning of “everything will go smoothly” and is considered lucky especially where it occurs in multiples. In feng shui, the number 6 represents authority and power.

  • A license plate with the number 66666 can be worth millions in China.
  • Young Chinese netizens widely use “666” to express admiration for people or things.

8 Uses in China

8 is considered the luckiest lucky in Chinese culture, because as mentioned above, in Mandarin Chinese, the pronunciation of “eight” is close to that of the phrase meaning “to make a fortune”. The number 8 is also uniquely symmetric, and when laid on its side, resembles the Greek symbol for infinity.

  • Chinese people tend to prefer the number 8 when buying a house, license plate, or telephone number, even if it means paying extra money.
  • The Chinese government complied with euphoria over the number 8 in the year of the Olympic Games, 2008: the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing began on the eighth of August (08/08/08), at precisely 8 minutes and 8 seconds past 8 PM, local Beijing time!
  • Bagua (八卦) literally means Eight Symbols. People now use it to refer to personal information. It can also describe someone who likes gossip.

9 Uses in China

9 is considered especially propitious. This is partly due to the fact that the pronunciation of “nine” is close to that of the word “long-lasting” in Chinese. So the couples would be glad to get wedding gifts containing the number 9, like a bouquet of 99 roses, which has an auspicious meaning of “have a long-lasting happy life together”.

In feng shui, 9 is highest on the number scale and represents the “ultimate masculinity”. It used to symbolize the supreme sovereignty of the emperor. So 9 or some multiple of 9 were often used in imperial house designs, like the 9,999 rooms in the Forbidden City.

Chinese Lucky Number Combinations

Chinese people love to use lucky number combinations to express their wishes or emotions.

Chinese Lucky Number combinations

  • 168 (li liu ba) sounds like 一路发 (yi lu fa), meaning “making a fortune all the way”.
  • 520 (wu er ling) is like 我爱你 (wo ai ni), which means “I love you”.
  • 1314 (yi san yi si) represents 一生一世 (yi sheng yi shi) in Chinese, meaning “throughout one’s life, which is often combined with 520 to say 5201314, “I love you forever”.
  • 666 and 888 are often the cash quantity of the Red Envelope during Chinese New Year, as a blessing from the elders to the younger generations, which hopes that they will have a smooth and successful life.

Chinese Zodiac Lucky Numbers

Chinese zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao (生肖) in China, consists of the 12 animal signs designated to the 12 earthly branches in China. The zodiac animals in order are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig, calculated according to Chinese Lunar New Year based on a twelve-year cycle. Each of the animal signs has its own lucky numbers.

Chinese Zodiac lucky numbers

Zodiac Years Lucky Numbers
Rat …1984, 1996, 2008, 2020… 2, 3
Ox …1973, 1985, 1997, 2009… 1, 9
Tiger …1974, 1986, 1998, 2010… 1, 2, 3
Rabbit …1975, 1987, 1999, 2011… 3, 7
Dragon …1976, 1988, 2000, 2012… 1, 6, 7
Snake …1977, 1989, 2001, 2013… 1, 6
Horse …1978, 1990, 2002, 2014… 2, 3, 7
Goat …1979, 1991, 2003, 2015… 3, 4, 9
Monkey …1980, 1992, 2004, 2016… 4, 6
Rooster …1981, 1993, 2005, 2017… 5, 7, 8
Dog …1982, 1994, 2006, 2018… 3, 4, 9
Pig …1983, 1995, 2007, 2019.… 2, 5, 8

Unlucky Numbers: Avoid Them if Possible

4 in China

4 in China (and in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam) is considered terribly unlucky because it sounds like the word for “death”. It is really a bad idea to assign the number 4 to anything. Generally, door numbers and car registration numbers do not contain any 4s, especially not in the last digit-place.

Although the number 4 is replete with ominous overtones, it still crops up in various contexts in China. For example:

  • Four popular plants in Chinese painting: plum blossoms, orchids, bamboo, chrysanthemum.
  • Four classic novels of ancient China: A Dream of Red Mansions, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, Journey to the West.
  • Mah-jong, one of the most popular Chinese games, needs four players.
  • Four Famous Buddhist Mountains: Mt. Wutai in Shanxi, Mt. Putuo in Zhejiang, Mt. Emei in Sichuan, Mt. Jiuhua in Anhui.

7 in China

7 is a yang number and its pronunciation in Chinese is close to the pronunciation of the word meaning gone (去qu). 7 also relates to ceremonies that release dead souls from purgatory. In some parts of China, the 14th or 15th of the 7th month in the Chinese lunar calendar is the Ghost Festival, the date for holding sacrificial ceremonies.

Neutral Numbers: Safe Numbers

1- is a yang number associated with wood and with the east. It is often associated with the meanings united, beginning, independent, complete, and infinite.

3- is a yang number associated with water and with the north. In feng shui, 3 has a natural resonance in terms of beginning, middle, and end; introduction, development, and conclusion. You can see this number widely used in Chinese culture: the Three Gorges, the Three Kingdoms in Chinese history, and the three halls of the Forbidden City in Beijing.

5- has been used to classify many things in Chinese, such as the five elements in astrology, the senses, and the basic colors. It is a neutral number. In feng shui, the 5th level of life sometimes means the best.

Chinese Numerology: Number Symbolism in Chinese Culture

  • 1 means only, unity, whole.
  • 2 means double, harmony.
  • 3 means many, stability.
  • 4 means death.
  • 5 means me or I.
  • 6 means smooth, good luck.
  • 7 means holiness, mystery.
  • 8 means wealth, success.
  • 9 means longevity, eternality.

Chinese Number symbolism

Lucky Numbers and Beijing’s Top Attractions

The number 9 used to symbolize the supreme sovereignty of the emperor. So 9 or some multiple of 9 can be easily found in Beijing’s imperial architectural designs.

The Forbidden City, Abode of Chinese Emperors

According to legend, the Forbidden City in Beijing has 9,999 rooms (in reality, it has only 8,704, according to a study in 1973). The number 9,999 is understandable in the light of the tradition that only the gods had the right to build a palace with 10,000 rooms. Human beings tried to get as near as possible to their ideal of perfection.

The Temple of Heaven, a Place for Worshiping God

You can find the number 9 everywhere in the construction of the Temple of Heaven: in the number of steps, balustrades, circles of paving stones, nails on doors and especially in the design of the Circular Mound Altar 圜丘坛 (Yuánqiū Tán), where a single round marble plate is surrounded by a ring of nine plates, and then a ring of 18 plates.

Chinese Dragon

Chinese dragons are often associated with the number 9. For example, a Chinese dragon is generally described in terms of nine attributes and usually has 117 scales – 81 (9x9) males plus 36 (9x4) females. There are nine forms of the dragon and the dragon has nine children. There is a famous Nine-Dragon Screen in the Forbidden City.

Seventeen-Arch Bridge in Summer Palace

Numerical sensitivity led to the design of an elegant bridge in the Summer Palace. The bridge has 17 arches, the sum of 9 and 8, characterized by a gradual reduction in the size of the arches. A Chinese architect would never suggest a four-arch bridge. You can find many numerically neat bridges in southern cities like Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Guilin.

Feel free to contact us if you want to visit Beijing to really experience the interesting numerology in China’s imperial architecture.

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