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6 is More Than a Number in the Eyes of Chinese People (Lucky Number, PartⅠ)

Sep. 25, 2013

One of my friends, Xiao Li is getting married soon in October. We are going to give her a “红包(hóngbāo)" as a wedding gift. In China, it is a tradition to give people who are getting married a “红包(hóngbāo)” as a kind of celebration and contribution to his/her wedding. “红包(hóngbāo)” in China is a red packet with cash money in it.

The following dialogue is the one I had with one of my other friends, Zhang Wei, about the amount of money we should put in the red packet for Xiao Li’s wedding.

Wǒ: Tā jiéhūn de shíhou, wǒmen gěi tā duōshǎo qián de hóngbāo?
  我: 她 结婚    的  时候 , 我们      给 她 多少        钱    的  红包?

Me: How much do you think we should put in the red packet then?

Zhāng Wěi: Wǒmen gěi tā liùbǎiliùshíliù kuài qián de hóngbāo ba,  jílì!
 张        伟:我们      给  她   666             块    钱    的 红包        吧,吉利!

Zhang Wei: Shall we give her 666 Yuan? It’s auspicious.

Wǒ: Hǎo zhúyi!
 我:好   主意!

Me: Good idea!

In our dialogue, you can see that my friend suggested we put 666 Yuan in the red packet. You may ask why. Here is the reason. In China, many numbers have a similar pronunciation with certain Chinese characters. Therefore, people will use these numbers to indicate or symbolize the things they are trying to say or mean. 6 sounds like the character “溜(liù),” which means “smoothly, frictionless, fluently” in the Chinese language, therefore the number 6 is considered very lucky. For example, if you wish your friends’ life to be smooth, you can say “祝你日子越过越顺溜!(Zhù nǐ rìzi yuè ɡuò yuè shùnliu!) With each passing day may your life get smoother and smoother!” That is to say, when you choose the number 6, you are hoping that everything will be quite “溜(liù) smooth.” And this is the reason why we want to give a 666-yuan red packet to Xiao Li. We wish that everything in her life will be smooth. 

Actually, Chinese people do believe that the lucky numbers can bring them luck. When they choose their telephone numbers, car numbers, wedding day, etc. they will try to use the lucky numbers. This kind of phenomenon has provided the businessman with some opportunity. For example, if you want to get a telephone number with lucky numbers like 6 in it, you may need to pay more to buy it because it will not be sold as an ordinary number. The same goes for car numbers. If you don’t care about the symbolized meaning of the number, you may get a license plate number at quite a low price. But once there was a news story about a rich man who paid almost three-hundred thousand Yuan for a license plate number that had 66666 on it.

Exercises:

1. When you give a friend 666 Yuan as a wedding gift, you are hoping that everything will go _____ with him/her.

A. happily

B. badly

C. smoothly

2. Which day of the following three do you think a Chinese people would probably choose as a wedding day?

A. April 4th

B. June 6th

C. July 4th

See answer

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