Each culture has its own unique icons that symbolize good luck. For the Irish, this is a four-leaf clover. In most Western countries, horseshoes are believed to bring luck. Symbols that symbolize good luck exist all over the world, and this includes Chinese culture. It is even possible to say that it is one of the richest cultures in terms of good luck symbols. The Chinese believe that many things bring luck, from colors to numbers, animals to fruits. Below, you can find detailed information about these symbols.
Animals as Good Luck Symbols
There are many animals that the Chinese believe to bring luck. As you can imagine, the dragon comes first. The Chinese people believe that turtles and some fish also bring luck, but these are just “variants” of dragons. The dragon is a mythological being that can take any shape it wants and has been used by the Chinese Emperors for thousands of years as a symbol of power.
It is believed that common people cannot see the dragons, and if any of the people saw a dragon, it was not of their own free will; the dragon chose to show itself. Therefore, seeing a dragon is believed to bring luck to that person. This is such an old belief that it has become an integral part of Chinese culture and has been used even in commercial life. This is why dragons are used in Chinese-themed casino games too (for example, 5 Dragons free pokies). However, there are other animals that the Chinese regard as symbols of luck. We can list them as follows:
Bats are malevolent creatures associated with vampires in Western cultures. In Chinese culture, they symbolize wealth and good fortune. They even think that seeing five bats side by side is a substitute for the ‘Five Blessings’ (long life, wealth, health, love of virtue, peaceful death).
Elephants symbolize luck and loyalty in almost all Asian countries. In Indian mythology, they are also thought to symbolize intelligence, and indeed one of the Hindu gods (Lord Ganesha) has an elephant head.
These birds, which mean bad luck in Western cultures, are very popular in Chinese culture. It is believed that those who see magpie will have good luck. In fact, the Chinese version of the word “magpie” also means happiness.
In Chinese, “fish” and “surplus” are pronounced the same, and almost all kinds of fish are considered symbols of wealth. But koi fish also means luck.. They can live for a very long time and stand out with their bright colors.
Numbers as Good Luck Symbols
The belief that some numbers bring luck can be seen in almost every culture in the world. The Chinese, on the other hand, believe that many numbers bring luck. The biggest reason for this is the pronunciation of the words. The pronunciation of many numbers in Chinese resembles the pronunciation of the words “luck” and “wealth.” For the same reason, some numbers are believed to be unlucky because they are pronounced like “bad things.”
Almost all numbers have their meanings. It is even possible to say that there is a superstition on this subject. You can see some examples below.
The Chinese believe that all things double mean good luck, so 2 is an important number. Even when giving gifts on important days, at least two gifts are given in order not to break the harmony. It is possible to see this in decorations too: If you visit the shops during the Chinese New Year, you will see that two banners are hung at the entrance to create asymmetry. Even in commercials, slogans are repeated twice.
The pronunciation of this number is almost the same as the pronunciation of the word “life”. It is also believed that in Buddhism, the number 3 symbolizes the “Three Jewels.” Therefore, we can say that 3 is considered a lucky number.
In Western cultures, this number is associated with the devil, and even 666 is seen as “the devil’s number.” The Chinese believe the opposite: The number 6 is considered auspicious in this country, and it is thought that the more it is repeated, the more its effect will increase. In other words, 666 is seen as an extremely lucky number in China. As a matter of fact, it is possible to see this number on the signs of many businesses.
This is the luckiest number in Chinese culture. It is believed to bring more luck if it is repeated more than once. For example, 88 means “double chance.” This belief is so strong that the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008 started at 8:08 PM. For the same reason, the number of flights of Chinese airlines almost always includes combinations of the number 8.
This number is pronounced the same as “infinity” and is, therefore, considered to be auspicious. 9 is officially the Chinese Emperor’s numeral. As a matter of fact, there are 9.999 rooms in the Imperial Palace for this reason. If you see the Emperor’s robe in a museum, watch out for the dragons on it: You will see exactly 9 dragons. There are unlucky numbers as well as lucky numbers. The Chinese believe that certain numbers should be avoided because they bring bad luck.
This number is pronounced almost the same as “death.” It is the equivalent of number 13 in Western cultures. We can say that there is a serious superstition in this regard. Most elevators in China do not have the number 4. Everyone avoids using 4 digits in addresses, phone numbers, and even license plates. For this reason, the prices of houses with number 4 are much lower than others. Even giving anything to someone that includes 4 means the same as a death threat.
This is an interesting number because it is believed to be both lucky and unlucky. 7 is a lucky number for lovers, as Valentine’s Day in China is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh
month. However, the seventh month is also considered the month of ghosts and spirits are believed to roam the earth. So this is both a lucky and an unlucky number.
Colors as Good Luck Symbols
Colors are also of great importance in Chinese culture in terms of luck and bad luck. There is a reason why red, yellow, and green are always used in traditional celebrations. These are considered auspicious colors in Chinese culture. Likewise, certain colors are believed to bring bad luck. We give some examples below.
This color represents happiness, success, and luck. This is why it is always used at festivals and weddings. Almost every store in China hangs something in red at its entrance. Sometimes it’s a lantern and sometimes ribbons. That’s also why gifts given during the Chinese New Year are put in red envelopes.
This color is synonymous with the Emperor. Indeed, the first Chinese Emperor is named the “Yellow Emperor”. It is possible to see this color in almost all royal palaces. The robes of the emperors are almost always yellow. If you visit the Forbidden City, look at the rooftops. You will see they are all yellow.
Green is considered auspicious because it means money and wealth. For this reason, banks and restaurants always use green color in their logos and signs. Since this color also means purity and cleanliness, it is possible to see it on the packaging of agricultural products too.
There are also some colors that are considered ominous. For example, white symbolizes death in Chinese culture, and everyone wears white for funerals. Therefore, it is difficult to see this color in daily life. We can say that the black color is also not popular because it means the same as “underground.” In other words, two basic colors that are opposite to each other (white and black) are considered ominous in Chinese culture.
There are also some strange symbols of good luck. Pumpkin is seen as a symbol of luck, especially in rural China, as it is pronounced the same as the word “wealth.” For this reason, it is possible to see
pumpkin sculptures in many houses and restaurants.
Not only Chinese but also Western people believe that statues known as “Laughing Buddha” bring luck. This statue represents the celestial Buddha named Pu-Tai, and you can see them almost everywhere. They are used not only in temples but also in homes.
Bamboo and pine trees are also auspicious figures for their continuity. Bamboo, in particular, has been seen as the representative of traditional Chinese values for thousands of years.
In short, the Chinese, like other cultures, accept many things as symbols of good luck and stay away from some things on the grounds that they bring bad luck. But the differences between cultures are surprising. For example, the fact that the number 666 has completely different meanings in Western and Chinese cultures shows how culture affects the way we perceive our environment.