While each country and culture has their own ideas about improving and attracting good luck, China is a particularly special case. Although some of the practices began in ancient times, the old traditions continue to live on today in our modern era. Each custom and superstition has been passed down throughout the generations, always remaining precious to those who believe in them.
Still, while many of them are based on archaic tradition and teachings of the Buddha, others simply stem from wordplay and riddles. With so many different aspects of life providing promises of good luck, there is certainly no shortage of good luck symbols throughout China.
Throughout China, colours are more than just hues and shades as they are connected to the five elements. For instance, Black represents water, Green stands for wood, yellow for earth and white for metal. When it comes to luck, red - which represents fire - is the colour you want as it promotes joy and fortune.
Red features prominently in weddings where it symbolises happiness for everyone involved, and around the Chinese New Year when families hang red banners named 'hui chun'. These banners, which also feature gold occasionally, are thought to bring good luck to a home and often depict fortunes. On the other hand, the Chinese tend to stay away from the colour green as it carries many negative connotations.
More commonly known as numerology, China's fixation on lucky numbers is known throughout the world. To this day numbers play an important role in Chinese culture, as certain numbers and number sequences are said to emit 'qi' or positive energy. Numerology is based almost entirely upon how a number sounds and what the connotations of that sounds may be. For example, some numbers are decidedly unlucky - such as the number four, which sounds like the word for death.
Conversely, the number three sounds a lot like 'life' and so is praised as lucky, while the number nine signifies happiness and a lengthy life. The number eight is also revered, as it is "ba" in Cantonese, which sounds like "fa" - meaning wealth. This good luck numerology isn't restricted to singular numbers either as pairs, multiples and simply even numbers are also said to bring good fortune.
China's fixation on numerology is particularly interesting as while other countries may have other superstitions and ideologies regarding numbers (for example, four is a positive number of solid foundations in the West) some still tend to embrace this Chinese luck system. One prominent instance of this is lotteries and other games, as even in the west sites like Sun Bingo offer Chinese themed options including the Luck and Fortune Scratchcard. This particular game is based entirely on Chinese numerology and its ability to promote luck, an idea that seems to have spread across the planet.
The natural world can also symbolise good fortune within Chinese tradition, particularly the lucky bamboo. Not only is this plant a natural luck booster, it is also said to increase positive feng shui throughout a home. Feng shui, of course, is the traditional art of space structure that aims to promote harmony through positive energy flows. Sometimes, particularly during Chinese New Year, lucky bamboo is used with other good luck charms to increase the chances of wealth. There is a plot twist though, as lucky bamboo is not actually part of the true bamboo family and instead is native to Cameroon, West Africa.
The Chinese do grow their own lucky plants though, specifically the cabbage. The Chinese name for the napa cabbage sounds a lot like the words for both 'hundred' and 'wealth', so many business establishments tend to place statues, glass figurines and porcelain replicas of cabbage roots throughout their property.
Ever wondered what those waving cat figurines are? They actually come from Japan where they are known as maneki-neko, meaning 'beckoning cat'. They are usually made using ceramic and are said to bring good luck and fortune to shop owners. This is why you will often see them placed in the entrances or at the receptions in shops, restaurants and other establishments. The maneki-neko can still be found in Japan, often in a place of study as it can promote good results and success, but due to China's love for all things lucky it has become increasingly popular there too.
This is particularly ironic considering the fact that fish are also praised throughout China, as they apparently represent luck in a variety of ways. In China, the word 'fish' is homophonous with the term for 'surplus' so the sea critters are often seen as a sign of wealth and abundance. This is why there are often carp and koi fish featured in Chinese artwork, plus these particular fish also represent endurance and longevity as well as unity as they often swim in pairs.
These are just some examples of lucky symbols throughout China, though there are plenty of others as well. Do you believe in such symbols, and if so have they ever brought you luck? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below.