Understanding Seven Chinese Superstitions

Within Chinese culture, superstitions are common among many people.  Like any other culture, some of these may seem strange, but they hold unique value.  To better understand more Chinese superstitions, I turned to my close Chinese friend Sonya for her experiences with superstitions.

These are seven Chinese superstitions:


1. In Chinese culture, people will burn fake paper money to commemorate a person who has passed away.  A large part of this superstition is seen in a memorial event of the Tomb sweeping festival, which has a long history in China.

2. In China, people do not use a broom to clean the floor on the first day of Chinese New Year.  Chinese people also do not throw out their trash on this day. It is bad to clean your house on this day, especially the floors, because the broom is seen as making fortune going away.

3. There are also superstitions regarding your body.  For example, your eyelid twitching has two different meanings.  If the left eyelid jumps suddenly, this means fortune and good luck.  If the right eyelid jumps suddenly, this means bad fortune and unluckiness.  

Fortune Teller

4. When someone starts a new business in China, some Chinese business people will turn to a fortune teller for guidance.  They will pay a considerable amount of money for the fortune teller to tell them the exact time to open their business.  The dates and times are seen as important for wealth and good luck with their business.

5. When a person passes away, their family does not bargain the price of an urn for ashes.  They also do not point to an urn that they decide to buy. This is out of respect for the person who passes away, so that there is not a focus on money.

6. Certain numbers in China are considered bad luck or have negative connotations.  The number “four” is very unlucky and one word to avoid. This is because the Chinese word for “four” sounds like the Chinese word for “death”.  

7. When a person’s Zodiac animal will be the next year, this means that it will be a tough year for them.  A solution to this superstition is that they will have to purchase red socks or underwear for a good year and to protect themselves.

For my friend Sonya, these superstitions are a part of her culture and life in China.  Through a greater understanding of these, it gives others the ability to connect with Chinese culture and the people in it.  This can further create a new awareness with regard to our own cultural traditions and superstitions. No matter how superstitious you are, it is important to recognize how superstitions speak to our cultures around the globe.