Does the Number 9 in Chinese Really Make Things Last Long? (Lucky Number, PartⅡ)

In the Chinese language, the number 9 has the same pronunciation as “久(jiǔ)” which means “long lasting.” Therefore, 9, 99 or 999 (or more 9s) can all be used to express the wish that beautiful things will last long, for example love, friendship, happiness and so on. In some areas in China, it is a custom to give the family of the bride a red packet of 9999 Yuan (or more 9s) to express the wish that the new couple will love each other forever.

Second, in Chinese people’s mind, if ten is perfect, then 9 is the best choice because no one will ever be perfect. What’s more, Chinese people believe that things will turn bad if they become extreme. That’s to say, if things become more than perfect or higher than ten, it will not be good, but will turn out for the worst. That’s another reason why we believe that 9 is the best number.

Besides, the number 9 even won the favor of emperors in ancient times. For example, the imperial robe had 9 dragons embroidered on it to distinguish the emperor from all others. In ancient China, people would call the emperor “九五之尊(jiǔ wǔ zhī zūn)” because 9 is the biggest odd number and it represents the one who has the greatest power, while 5 is in the middle of 1-9 to keep balance. Therefore, “九五之尊(jiǔ wǔ zhī zūn)” was used to address the emperor indicating that he was noble and without arrogance. Moreover, there are 9999 rooms in the Forbidden City. It is believed that the emperors built 9999 rooms to ensure the royal sovereignty would last forever.


1. If you want to wish for a new couple to have a love that will last, you can give ____ Yuan as a gift?

A. 666

B. 888

C. 999

2. Which of the following words mean “long lasting?”

A. 久(jiǔ)

B. 好(hǎo)

C. 大(dà)

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