Why Chinese People Love the Number 8, But Avoid 4 Like the Plague

“Your phone number has many 8s in it! That’s so lucky!”

“This house’s address has a number 4 in it, that’s not good”

If you’re Chinese, you’ve probably heard stuff like this from your folks all the time. The number eight has always been known to be a lucky number to Chinese people while four is the most unlucky. How seriously do Chinese people take this? Let’s look at some facts:

  • In 2003, the phone number “+86 28 8888 8888” was sold to Sichuan Airlines for $280,000 during a special auction.
  • During the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the opening ceremony commenced on 8/8/08 at exactly 8 minutes and 8 seconds past 8 p.m. local time.
  • The minivans GM makes for the Chinese market are named “Buick GL8“.
  • The flight numbers for multiple airlines that travel to and from Asia typically include an 8: Air Canada route from Shanghai to Toronto is Flight AC88, United Airlines route from Beijing to San Francisco if Flight UA888, British Airways route from Chendu to London is Flight BA 88.
  • In China, if you want to have the number 8 on your phone number of license plate, you’ll need to pay extra.
  • My mother wants me to get married next year on 8/8/18.

So what’s the big deal about the number eight? The answer might be anti-climactic if you’re expecting a complex or mystical reason. It’s basically because pronouncing the number eight in Chinese, “ba”, sounds like “fa” 发 which means wealth and fortune. Additionally, the number 8 is considered lucky because it’s a perfect symmetrical shape.

“You can cut the number 8 in half vertically or horizontally, and both halves mirror themselves perfectly. Perfect symmetry lends itself to perfect balance. In Chinese Astrology, perfect balance is considered the ideal,” according to Onlinechineseastrology.com.

Lastly, putting two eights together would by 88, which bares a visual resemblance to the Chinese word 囍, which literally means “double happiness”.

Now lets look at the number four and why Chinese people avoid it like the plague everywhere they go. The reason is just as simple as the number eight. The number four, when spoken in Chinese, sounds almost exactly like the word “si” 死, which means death in Chinese. Because of this reason, you may not see a “4th floor” on business and residential buildings in Asian countries. In 2010, Beijing stopped issuing license plates with the Number 4.

However, these beliefs are not exclusive to China — any country that has some Chinese influence will have this practice as well, like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia or Singapore.

So the next time you walk into an elevator somewhere in Asia and you see the fourth floor is missing, you’ll know why.

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