When you think of March you think of St. Patrick’s Day, four-leaf clovers, and green leprechauns. The luck of the Irish, right?
Although Ireland may be the most well-known country for “luck”, they aren’t the only ones who know a thing or two about it. In fact, most countries around the world have their own symbols and beliefs that bring good fortune to its inhabitants.
After living in China for several years and having researched a lot of Chinese culture for my novels Perfectly Arranged, Perfectly Placed (releasing July 5, 2022) and Perfectly Matched (releasing, April 4, 2023), I discovered that luck isn’t just for the Irish!
5 Lucky Chinese Symbols
The Chinese culture is seeped in rich history, beliefs, and wisdom. But when it comes to luck they have a wide range of symbols that have important meanings for well-being and happiness. Here are 5 of the most common:
Numbers. Whether it’s the day to host an important event, the time at which something should happen or the numbers you should pick for the lottery, having the right number in China matters!
- The number 8 in China is the luckiest number because it is associated with wealth. ‘Eight’ (八) in Chinese is pronounced ba and sounds similar to fa (发, traditional character: 發) as in facai (发财), meaning ‘well-off’ or ‘becoming rich in a short time’. That’s why the 2008 Olympics, which were held in Beijing, began on 8/8/08 at 8:08 or why so many Chinese restaurants have that particular number in their name!
- Other numbers that the Chinese consider lucky include 1 and 2 (yen and yang), 6 (great success and smoothness in everything one does), and 9 (popular at weddings and birthdays, it symbolizes eternity and long lasting).
Animals. Most cultures have particular spirit animals that are held in high esteem. China is no different! Here are a few of their favorites:
- Bats. Bats are a symbol for wealth because the Chinese translation for bats is 蝙蝠 (biān fú) . And the Chinese word 蝠 (fú) has the same Chinese pinyin as 福 (fú) , the Chinese translation for fortune or happiness. If you place 5 bats together, they represent the ‘Five Blessings’ (wufu 五福): long life, wealth, health, love of virtue and a peaceful death.
- Magpie. The Chinese believe that if one sees a Magpie, one’s good luck will arrive. Magpie in Chinese is 喜鹊 (xǐ què) . The Chinese word 喜 (xǐ) symbolizes joy and happiness, and 鹊 (què) means Magpie. So when you see a Magpie, you will soon have good luck.
- Cranes. Cranes are referred to as the prince of all feathered creatures and symbolize longevity, good fortune, purity and peace.
Colors. Not sure which shirt to wear to ensure your sports team wins or to help you pass that school test? If you lived in China, here are a few options you could choose from:
- Red. Warm, festive, lively and filled with emotional senses, it represents celebration, vitality, and fertility. Unlike most other cultures, red is the traditional color worn by Chinese brides, as it is believed to ward off evil.
- Yellow/Gold. A sign of power, prosperty and royalty, the color yellow also represents the late summer season, the central direction. and the earth.
Fruit. Not only is it good for your health, in China fruit is often given as gifts to ensure good luck!
- Oranges. Oranges are eaten frequently during the Chinese New Year festivities and among certain Chinese diasporas, oranges are exchanged as gifts during the Festival.
- Pomegranates. The pomegranate is a common design element in Chinese art as it symbolizes the wish for many children, and in particular, sons. The fruit is full of seeds, and the word for seeds in Chinese is also that for children. Together with the double-happiness symbol, pomegranates feature prominently as wedding gifts.
- Apples. An apple a day can keep the doctor away, but it can also bring peace and tranquility to your life!
Plants. While plants are good for the environment and can add a special touch to your home’s decor, the Chinese believe that plants also have special meaning.
- Bamboo. Enjoyed by pandas, bamboo stands as an example of loneliness and elegance, among others. This value becomes one of the major themes in Chinese painting, calligraphy and poetry.
- Pine trees. Tall and sturdy, the Chinese believe pine trees are nature’s reminder to winter that survival is inevitable and that spring will surely return. Their roots represent our ancestors and upright branches our offspring and future.
- Plums. Not only is its fruit good to eat, the flower itself holds much significance. The five petals represent the Five Blessings: old age, wealth, health, love of virtue, and a natural death. Because the plum is the first flower to bloom while the winter air still bites, it represents the vitality and vigor of nature.
Hopefully, this list helps you to see that luck isn’t just for the Irish. Instead I pray it’s opened your eyes to other cultures and the unique perspective they have as well!