Promotional gifts should always be appropriate for the different contexts and cultures in which they are given out. In Chinese culture, numbers play a huge role in society as certain numbers are believed to be auspicious and others inauspicious
Superstitions or not, these beliefs are deeply ingrained in Chinese culture and must be considered when gifting to a Chinese person. For more China living themed blogs check out..
- Giving gifts to Chinese people
- Chinese Zodiac Symbols & Years
- Holidays in China
- Fun Blog on Commuting in China
Here are some of the meanings behind the numbers and what they mean to Chinese customers.
Nine: Due to similarities between the letter 9 (九 jiŭ) and the Chinese character for longevity (久, jiŭ), 9 is considered a highly auspicious number for the Chinese people wishing for a long, happy and healthy life.
Eight: Perhaps the most popular number for Chinese worldwide, the number eight (八 bā) usually symbolizes prosperity or wealth. The origins of this belief lies in the similarity in the word 8 and fortune in regional dialects such as Cantonese where 8 (Baat) is comparable with fortune (發 Faat). As such most Chinese openly welcome as much usage of the number 8 in their lives; from their car licence plates to the floors they live on and phone numbers, the Number 8 holds a very special place in Chinese tradition.
Seven: Like in western cultures, the number 7 (七 qī) is considered auspicious by Chinese standards due to a similar meaning to the word togetherness (起 qĭ) in Mandarin in terms of family and community.
Six: A number favored by businessmen, the number 6 (六 liù) symbolizes fluidity due to similarity to the Chinese word for flow (流 liú) which in business describes money ever flowing into the business.
Five: The number 5 (五 wŭ) in Chinese culture symbolizes the 5 elements wood, fire, metal, water and earth. which influenced the Chinese art of Feng Shui as well as traditional Chinese medicine and astrology. As such the number 5 is well regarded.
Four: The most infamous of numbers, the number 4 (四 sì) is considered highly inauspicious as it pronunciation is highly similar to the Chinese and Cantonese word for death (死 sǐ). This superstitious belief also extends to other East Asian people such as the Japanese and the Koreans as their native pronunciation of the number 4 is also similar to the word death in both Japanese and Korean respectively. In extreme cases, the number 4 avoided to the extent of skipping floors of buildings with the number 4 in it completely.
Three: Similarities between number 3 (三 sān) and the character birth (生 shēng) leads to 3 being a well received number by the Chinese as a new birth is considered auspicious.
Two: As a general rule, the Chinese believe that ‘good things comes in pairs.’ This is reflected by the popularity of word such as 囍 or double happiness (shuāng xĭ) during auspicious events such as weddings. As a result, the number 2 is considered an auspicious number as it symbolizes a pair of items.
One: By itself, the letter 1 (一 Yī) has little significance. However when paired up with other letter such as 13 or 14 it becomes auspicious an d inauspicious respectively as it sounds relatively close to the phrase “definitely living” or “definitely dying” respectively.
Zero: Zero (零 Líng) has little significance in chinese culture as it often holds little meaning as they are limitless in nature with infinite potential.
Finally, number combinations can be linked together to create similar Puns or Word-Play. Getting number combinations right on branding, gifts and even pricing shows a strong understanding of the language and culture.