Auspicious Numbers in Feng Shui
Did you know that if you press a Chinese elevator button to go to the 50th floor of a building, you may actually only be going to the 35th floor? This is because many buildings in China not only omit the 13th floor, but are also missing any floor containing the number 4, which is considered to be the unluckiest number in Chinese culture. The Chinese have many superstitions about numbers, often related to similar-sounding words in the Chinese language, which are called homophones.
In fact, the Chinese are so superstitious about numbers, that they will often spend big money for "lucky numbers" in their life. A man in Hangzhou listed his license plate, A8888, for $140, 000 online. (Eight is a particularly auspicious number in Chinese culture.) Not only is that the case, but Chinese people will specifically avoid unlucky numbers during big holidays, such as Chinese New Year, or before a big exam like the SAT or Gaokao.
Here's a list of lucky and unlucky Chinese numbers!
2 (二, ÈR) - LUCKY
The Chinese believe that doubles bring blessings. Many decorations for celebrations come in pairs, and gifts are also given in even numbers. For Chinese New Year, banners are placed symmetrically on both sides of the door. For traditional Chinese weddings, decorations often include the word 囍 (shuāng xǐ), which is a combination of two of the word 喜 (xǐ), meaning “happiness”. Businesses will also repeat words in names and slogans, hoping to bring good luck.
3 (三, SĀN) - LUCKY
三 sounds similar to 生, which means “life” or “to give birth” in Chinese. Chinese culture puts emphasis on family and strong, healthy children, so 生 has a positive connotation. In Buddhism, which is widely practiced in China, 3 is a significant number because it relates to the "three jewels", a foundational ideal.
4 (四, SÌ) - UNLUCKY
4 is well known to be an unlucky number because 四 sounds similar to 死 (sǐ), which means "death" in Chinese. People will go to extremes based on superstitions of the number 4. In China, the presence of the number 4 is avoided in most public settings; in addition to elevator buttons, addresses, ID numbers, phone numbers, license plates, and product names will usually omit the number 4 for fear of being attached to bad luck. Houses and apartments that have 4 in the address number will sell for much less than ones without. Mentioning the number four to an ill family member is considered to be highly offensive, and giving anything with 4 on it to someone can be seen as a death threat.
5 (五, WǓ) - LUCKY/UNLUCKY
The number 5 is associated with both good luck and bad luck depending on context. Since 五 sounds similar to 无 (wú), which means “not” or “without” in Chinese, it can be viewed as bad luck. However, the number is also associated with positivity because many Chinese traditional philosophical concepts revolve around the number 5, such as the five elements 五行 (wǔ xíng), which is used in traditional Chinese medicine, feng shui, martial arts, and even music.