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The 20 Strangest Chinese Superstitions

The mythical nation of China is one that’s steeped in ancient traditions and belief systems. As such, superstitions and the supernatural have played a role in the lives of Chinese citizens for centuries with many of these practices still being observed today!

While stepping on a crack or a broken mirror might bring bad fortune in the West, there are plenty more mystical dos and don’ts that are followed in China!

So in that case, here are the 20 strangest and most unique superstitions in China!

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The Number 4

Chinese superstitions
Avoid the number 4!

The number 4 is considered incredible in China simply because it sounds similar to the word for “death” in Mandarin. As such, many Chinese people avoid using the number 4 whenever possible. You’ll even find that building floors, house numbers and even rows on transportation will have the number 4 skipped entirely!

Red is Lucky

Chinese superstitions
Lucky red envelope

While the number 4 may be unlucky, the colour red is the complete opposite! Red symbolises happiness, prosperity and good fortune. Therefore, celebrations such as weddings and the all-important Chinese New Year is bathed in red! Everything is covered in a bright crimson hue, from the clothes to the decorations. That includes the iconic hong bao or red envelopes which are given to people filled with money.

Fish Bring Prosperity

Chinese superstitions
Hey fishy fishy

Chinese culture also sees great symbolism in animals. Yet another symbol of prosperity is the humble fish! Having one in your home or office (a live one of course) is considered good luck and should bring wealth. That is also why they are often served during Chinese New Year.

You should also take care while eating one. Eating the entire fish is considered unlucky as it symbolizes the idea of being trapped. Therefore, it is common for Chinese people to leave behind the head and tail intact.

Tipping Chopsticks

Chinese superstitions
Done properly!

Do not make the fatal mistake of sticking your chopsticks directly into a bowl of rice! As convenient as that may seem, in Chinese culture, they resemble the incense sticks used at funerals! You’re symbolising death!

Tangerines and Oranges are Lucky


Bright, juicy and delicious they may be, but this mouth-watering fruit is more than just a healthy snack! Tangerines are yet another object considered lucky in China because of their round shape and bright golden colour which represent wealth and prosperity. It’s for that reason that they are often given as gifts during the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Giving a clock as a gift

Time is running down

A beautiful clock or a streamlined watch may seem like a sweet idea for a gift, but you could be condemning the received to death! The word clock sounds very similar to the word for “funeral” in Mandarin. As such, clocks are often associated with the end of life, and as a result, many people avoid giving them as gifts.

Don’t Whistle at Night

Chinese superstitions

If you find yourself whistling a ditty on your way home late at night, you might find you won’t be alone! Whistling at night is believed to attract ghosts and, of course, bring bad luck in Chinese culture. The belief is that whistling can break the peacefulness of the night and disturb the spirits. Therefore, whistling at night is seen as inviting bad luck and misfortune.

Dragons and Phoenixes are Lucky

Chinese superstitions
A vibrant dance

If it wasn’t plainly obvious, Chinese cultures have a great affinity for dragons and phoenixes. Their mythical creature is considered a lucky symbol and having one in your home or office can bring good luck and prosperity. And just like the tattoo of alcohol-fuelled Marbella expats, it also represents power and strength.

is why dragon and phoenix sculptures or paintings are often found in Chinese businesses, homes and even temples. That is also why they are often found together as they represent unit and balance.

Writing Names in Red Ink

Avoid the red pen!

If you’re one of the many expats that start a new life teaching in China, don’t make the fatal mistake of writing someone’s name in red ink!

Historically, death row inmates’ names were written in chicken blood and later red ink. As such, you’ll be sentencing the individual to death!

Pointing at the moon

Bright night

Yet another major no no in Chinese culture is to point at the moon. According to the legend, Chang’e was banished to the moon after stealing the elixir of immortality. Therefore, pointing at the moon is seen as disrespecting the moon goddess and bringing bad luck. And I guess you wouldn’t want to join her there as punishment!

Cutting noodles

Eat them properly!

Head to any restaurant in China and you’re bound to be deafened by a chorus of slurping noises from all around. Rather than lacking manners, there’s actually some superstition behind it!

Cutting noodles is considered unlucky in Chinese culture because it is believed to shorten one’s life. Therefore, it is common for Chinese people to slurp their noodles. So get used to it!

Bamboo is Lucky

Chinese superstitions
A floral icon

Yet another Chinese icon, the incredibly versatile bamboo plant is yet another thing that is thought to bring good fortune. Due to its resilience and ability to grow very quickly, it is believed (and hoped) that the same can be said for one’s wealth and prosperity!

Sleeping with your feet towards the door

Tuck them in!

Does your bed face towards the door? Well unlucky for you, as in Chinese culture, you look like a corpse about to be carried out of the room! Naturally, this is considered very unlucky, so best change position!

Wearing a Green Hat

Happy St. Patricks Day

Being a “cuck” might be a relatively new term amongst millennials, but in Chinese cultures, this has been a solid superstition for centuries.

Wearing a green symbolises one to be a cuck of and associated with infidelity! So for the sake of your marriage, don’t do it!

Crying at a wedding

That’s the only thing that should be flowing

Crying at a wedding isn’t just the sign of a middle-aged divorcee questioning her life, it’s also considered unlucky in Chinese cultures! Not necessarily for you, but you’d be bringing bad luck to the happy couple! So save those tears!

Eating in bed

Sloth at its finest

We’ve all been there! A pizza box and Netflix on the go, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice! Doing so is considered bad luck, and ghosts might be tempted to join you!

Sweeping at night

Brush brush

Sweeping at night is considered unlucky in Chinese culture because it is believed to sweep away good luck. Therefore, it is common for Chinese people to avoid sweeping at night.

Jade is Lucky

The beauty of jade

Jade brings good luck: Jade is considered a lucky stone in Chinese culture because it is believed to bring good luck, health, and prosperity.

Taking a photo with three people

Three’s a crowd

Taking a photo with three people is considered unlucky in Chinese culture because it is believed to resemble the character for “death.” Therefore, it is common for Chinese people to avoid taking photos with three people.

Don’t Cut Your Hair on New Year’s Day

Just a quick trim

It is believed that cutting your hair on New Year’s Day can bring bad luck for the rest of the year. This is because the word for “hair” in Chinese sounds similar to the word for “wealth”. Therefore, cutting your hair is seen as cutting off your wealth for the year.

Thank You for Reading! Check Out These Other Helpful Links!

Thank you so much for reading The Top 20 Strangest Chinese Superstitions! Check out these other helpful articles!

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