Are you curious about “lucky” and “unlucky” numbers in traditional Chinese culture?
If you’ve read my article to learn about “your” Feng Shui number, you know what the numbers 1-9 mean in Feng Shui astrology.
But the numbers have traditional non-astrological meanings in Chinese lore as well, which it’s fun to know about.
Luck is what you make it, of course, so I provide this for informative purposes only and not to guide you regarding life-changing decisions!
Numbers are considered auspicious or inauspicious for various reasons including the words they sound like in Cantonese or Mandarin Chinese.
To start with, every number has an energetic, Yin/Yang polarity: all even numbers are considered Yin, while every odd number is Yang.
Zero -> 0
- Since zero makes every number “even” when it comes at the end, it’s considered auspicious especially when it applies to money. It is also associated with the limitless and eternal Tao.
One -> 1
- One represents unity, and the idea of conception and the initiation of activity.
- It is considered neither particularly lucky or unlucky.
Two -> 2
- Two is considered an auspicious number representing balance, symmetry and duality.
- One Chinese saying goes, “Good things come in pairs,” and paired symbols such as Double Happiness are common.
Three -> 3
- Three sounds similar to the word for “birth” or “ever-growing,” so it is considered a very auspicious number.
Four -> 4
- You may have heard that 4 is considered the unluckiest of numbers because its Chinese pronunciation sounds like the word for “death.” This is the floor that is skipped on Asian elevators, similar to the 13th floor that’s often missing in Western buildings.
- However, four still has many positive connotations in things like compass directions, and its association with the Wealth sector of the Bagua Map.
- And of course double-4 means eight, a very good number indeed.
Five -> 5
- An auspicious number, many good things come in 5’s: Five Elements, five fingers, the five sacred Chinese mountains and even 5 types of grain!
- Get to know the five Chinese blessings: Wealth, Happiness, Longevity, Luck and Prosperity 😉
- In some connotations it means “not,” so five is used carefully in combination with other things.
Six -> 6
- The number six sounds like both “flow” and “good luck” in Chinese, so it’s an auspicious number, especially for business.
- It can also sound like the word for “decline” so is used with care.
Seven -> 7
- Sounding like the words for “arise” and “life essence” and symbolizing “togetherness,” 7 is a very positive number, especially for relationships.
- There are seven gods of prosperity in the Chinese tradition.
- Seven is one of the rare numbers that’s considered lucky in both Eastern and Western cultures.
Eight -> 8
- Eight is a favorite number because it sounds like the words for “wealth” and “growth.”
- In some dialects 8 also sounds like “fortune.”
- It’s considered so auspicious for example that the 2008 Beijing Olympics began on 8/8/08 at 8 minutes and 8 seconds past 8pm local time (with mascots representing the Five Elements!)
Nine -> 9
- Nine sounds like “enduring” in Chinese, so it symbolizes a long life.
- 9 also symbolizes harmony.
- Nine is considered to be a sacred number: the pinnacle and most powerful of them all.
- After the number 9, everything just goes back to 1 again: 10 = 1+0 = 1, so nine is the ultimate, the end of the numerical cycle.
There’s always more to learn about when it comes to Chinese cultural symbols and meanings.
What would you like to know about?
(Artwork by mrsdkrebs on flickr)