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A Lecture on Numeral Culture in China Held in the Confucius Classroom

In honour of celebrating the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rabbit, on 1 February 2023

the Confucius Institute organized a lecture on numeral culture in China in the Confucius

Classroom at Banja Luka Grammar School, which was held by professor Huo Qifei.

In his lecture, professor Huo presented some interesting facts about the numeral culture in China and explained that people in China believe in “lucky” numbers and that they can bring them good luck and fortune. They choose such numbers when they plan some important events and dates, such as weddings, dates of moving into a new house, or when they choose telephone numbers or car license plate numbers, etc.

In the Chinese language, these “lucky” numbers are pronounced similarly as words with “lucky”

meanings. The numbers 8, 2, 6 and 9 are the favourite lucky numbers of most Chinese people,

where number 8 is considered the luckiest of all numbers. Combinations of these numbers are

also considered to be lucky, such as the numbers 66, 88, 168.

Number 8 (8/八:“发”), as the luckiest number in the Chinese traditional and modern culture,

symbolizes wealth and success. When you wish someone in China a lot of success in life and

work, very often you will say to them: 八方来财: „Wealth comes in from all corners of the

world.“ or 八面来风: “Spring wind from eight directions”. For example, the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games commenced exactly at 8 minutes and 8 seconds past 8 pm on the 8 th of August 2008.

Number 2 (两), which is pronounced as r or liang, is considered to be lucky as the Chinese

believe that all good things come in pairs (好事成双). It symbolizes harmony and balance, which is very important in the Chinese culture, hence even numbers (偶数)gain preference over odd numbers (奇数).

Number 6 (六), which is pronounced as lui, is considered lucky as it sounds like the word “流”,

which means „to flow“ and indicates smooth progress in life (六六大顺: Everything goes

smoothly.) Similar to number 8, number 6 is preferred on telephone numbers and vehicle plates. When a young couple gets engaged, the man customarily offers a gift to the girl’s family, which is usually money in the amount of 6,666 RMB (彩礼), аnd this gift signifies a harmonious life for the couple.

Number 9 (九) is a very popular number in the Chinese culture, which symbolizes longevity,

eternity (久). It is very common to give your beloved 99 roses on Valentine’s Day in China,

while in the Chinese mythology, it is said that the Dragon has 9 children.

Just as they believe in “lucky” numbers, people in China also believe there are “unlucky”

numbers, and number 4 (四) is believed to be the unluckiest one, due to the fact that it is

pronounced (s) similarly to the word death (死) in the Chinese language. Interestingly, one will notice that this number is usually omitted in building elevators.

After the lecture, the Grammar School students wrote wishes on red sheets and hang them on the tree of wishes, which will be available to all students in the school hall during the Chinese New Year, i.e., the Spring Festival.

About the Chinese New Year

Nowadays, it is not only celebrated in China, it is celebrated in many cities around the world,

with fireworks, lion or dragon dance, red lanterns, which are a symbol of wishes for happiness

and well-being, as well as in the form of other Chinese traditional and modern cultural and

artistic events. Such celebrations provide an opportunity for other nations to feel the charm of

Chinese tradition and culture.

Chinese New Year, which is also called Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is the most

important holiday that marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring in China. The holiday lasts 15 days, and the last day is the Lantern Festival (this year on February 5), known for various riddles and wishes written on the surface of paper lanterns, which are then lit and

released into the sky.

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