Superstitions are common in all cultures, you’ve probably been told to never open an umbrella indoors, or if you were to break a mirror, you’re in for 7 years of bad luck. Hong Konger’s take it to a whole new level, we aren’t ones to take superstitions lightly. From our buildings to our way of life, it is ingrained in everyday culture. – Here are some of the most common.
The city is built around the ideas of Feng Shui, so much so we wrote a whole piece on it not too long ago. From Hopewell Center to Repulse Bay, you can see glimpses of architectural anomalies that are made to bring good fortune to its tenants. Even western companies like Disney hire Feng Shui consultants to bring good Qi into the park.
The number 4 sounds very similar to the word ‘death’ in Chinese. That is why the number 4 is avoided in many instances, like when gift giving 4 of an item is forbidden, when being served baskets of dim sum they are often served in 3’s and even the 4th floor is often not acknowledged in buildings, instead, they skip straight to floor 5 or become floor 3B.
Colour plays a vital role in Chinese culture. Red is considered a lucky and celebratory tone, whereas white and black are considered colours of mourning. While most modern folks aren’t strict on these rules, it’s best to play it safe as to not risk offending anyone – You shouldn’t show up to a celebration in white nor should you rock up in red to a sombre occasion.
Gifting giving is a tricky one to navigate, a bad gift could invite omens into to people’s homes. Most of these items are on the no-no list because their names bare resemblance to negative words. Here’s what you shouldn’t gift.
Shoes – Because the word resembles exhaling in frustration or anger, you wouldn’t want to invite more of that into someone’s life.
Green Hats – Unless you want to call someone a cuckold, this isn’t an excellent gift.
Clocks – Clocks are a reminder that time is running out, and that death is near. A grim gift to give!
Sharp Objects – Knives or blades should be avoided, they represent the end of a relationship and severing ties.
Pears – A healthy snack might be a good gift? Sure, but not pears, they sound too similar to the word ‘depart’.
Wallet – This implies you are just giving your money away and may seem impersonal. However, this only applies to those you are not close with, use your discretion on this one!
Anything white or black – Again, use your discretion on this one, but the general rule of thumb is never to give a gift that takes on the colours of mourning.
Lucky Number 8
4 is terrible, but 8 is great! The number 8 sounds similar to the word prosper, so it is a sought after number! Shopkeepers will price their goods at $88 dollars, people will fight to get a phone number with plenty of 8’s in it and millionaires will pay 18 million HKD to get a number plate with ’28’ on it because it sounds like the phrase for ‘easy fortune.’
One is never to stick their chopstick upright into a bowl of rice – why? Because it looks similar to the ritual offerings to the dead.
Chinese Zodiac You’d think when it’s your zodiac year the heavens would bless you with all sorts. Nah. Typically your zodiac year will bring you less than favourable fortunes and have you looking around every corner. Many Hong Konger-ers turn to feng shui to combat this, wearing little trinkets or carrying cards depicting gods with them wherever they go.