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How to Understand Ancient Chinese Superstitions

Many Chinese superstitions date to ancient times. Here are a few that are still widely known.


  • Step 1: Understand the role of the past Know that ancient Chinese superstitions are still observed in China because they provide continuity with the past.
  • Step 2: Know the role of ancestors Understand that superstitions provide a glimpse into the lives of one's ancestors. Some superstitions are passed on from generation to generation in an attempt to avoid dangers that plagued earlier times.
  • Step 3: Be aware of your place in the universe Be aware that some superstitions -- especially those dealing with Chinese New Year -- are intended to help people understand their place in the universe. An example is to never point at the moon or your ears might get chopped off.
  • TIP: Part of knowing one's place in the universe is knowing how to appease elders.
  • Step 4: Understand feng shui Understand the Chinese philosophy of feng shui, which divides energy into positive and negative forms. Attracting the flow of positive energy into your home is supposed to increase prosperity. For example, don't build your house facing north.
  • Step 5: Understand wordplay Know that some superstitions derive from homonyms -- words that have different spellings but the same pronunciation. For example, lotus flowers and boxes are associated with weddings because they are both pronounced the same as the Chinese word for harmony. What could be more auspicious?
  • FACT: The Chinese New Year falls on the second New Moon after the Winter Solstice.

You Will Need

  • Understanding of Chinese culture

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