Why is the Number 13 Lucky to the Chinese?

Why is the Number 13 Lucky to the Chinese


If you are interested in learning about the Chinese culture or learning Chinese in Singapore, the first thing that will strike you is how different the Chinese culture is from Western. One such example is the number 13.

The number 13 is considered unlucky in the western world, but not so in Chinese. Quite the opposite, the number 13 is considered lucky by the Chinese people.

But even in this difference there’s a similarity. This difference shows that the Chinese people, much like their Western counterparts, are superstitious about numbers.  If anything, the Chinese are more superstitious!

It’s not just the number 13 that holds prominence among the Chinese; many other numbers are of great interest to them. For example, a telephone number of 8888-8888 was sold for as much as $300,000 in a particular Chinese city. Another instance which shows how much lucky the Chinese consider this number is the fact that the Beijing Olympics of 2008 was opened on 8th August, 2008 (that is, 08/08/2008) at 8:08 pm.

Why some numbers are luck and certain others unlucky in Chinese?

It all depends on the sound a number makes when you speak it in Chinese. If the sound of a particular number is associated with a happy, positive word, it is considered lucky, and the opposite is also true.

Let’s take the example of the number 8, for instance. When you say 8 in Chinese the sound that comes out is close to ‘fa’. Words such as fortune and prosperity are pronounced the same way in Chinese.

That’s why the Chinese people associate the number 8 with fortune and prosperity. This explains why the number 8 is so popular among Chinese. As a matter of fact, if you are living in Mainland China, Singapore, or Hong Kong, you should forget about competing for this number or others like it which are considered lucky, unless your pocket runs seriously deep!

Another number that’s considered lucky is 9. Its pronunciation means arrive or enough. In the same way, 6 is also considered lucky, because it means smooth and happy.

Among many Chinese, 7 is extremely popular. This is because in Mandarin it sounds like wife. Certain bigger numbers are also popular or unpopular, depending on their pronunciation.

For example, 517 implies ‘I want a wife’ and that’s why it is quite popular. On the other hand, no one wants 514, because it implies ‘I want to die’.

Another example is 18. This number is popular for two reasons. One the sum of the two digits is 9 and this number is considered lucky. Another reason is when you pronounce 18 in Mandarin, the sound produced is close to that of the word “definitely prosperous”. You might learn more such words in your Mandarin lessons in Singapore.

But let’s come back to the number 13. Why it is considered lucky by Chinese people?

Well, in word means “assured growth” or “definitely vibrant” in Chinese. That’s why this number is considered very lucky in Chinese, unlike its perception in the western world.


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