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A constant feature in all things Chinese is the color (colour, for those yank-challanged among y'all) red.

As common knowledge goes, it is because red is considered to be lucky.


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This is not a Chinese language question. Shame we don't have a Chinese culture Q&A site :( – congusbongus Jul 4 '14 at 4:50
@congusbongus maybe it fits under History? Though the knowledge of Chinese culture is probably pooled here? – Ming Jul 4 '14 at 5:32
I'm a Chinese, and I don't think 'Red' implies lucky... – Bruce Lu Jul 4 '14 at 5:53
here's a list of proverbs/idioms with red in there – Fabricator Jul 9 '14 at 4:52

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

There have an old tale in China, saying that having a beast called "Nian" (年獸), and it will only attack people in spring. But it afraid all the things in red.

That's why Chinese use many things in red in the lunar new year (also in spring). And it become a common color represent "lucky" in Chinese culture.

More information about Nian can be found:

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However, this doesn't really explain why it's red and not green, blue or some other colour. Since the beast is made up, it could have been afraid of any colour. – Olle Linge Jul 4 '14 at 5:55
In fact, it does. Because this tale affected many festival behavior, such as "Fai Chun" / "Red Pocket money" / "firecracker". And "Red" become a color represent good stuffs, so Chinese will call "marriage" & "giving birth" as a "Red event" (紅事). And also having a luck element inside. – Desmond Ho Jul 4 '14 at 11:58
I'm sorry, but it doesn't. Please use the information you have provided to explain why it's red and not green (or some other colour). – Olle Linge Jul 5 '14 at 5:47
Why is 年 afraid of red? – congusbongus Jul 5 '14 at 6:53
@OlleLinge, one thing that you are correct is the tale was just a tale. But whatever it is, all the versions of this story just pointing it is afraid of red. You may ask the same question about why Harry Potter called Harry but not other names, if you don't accept this answer, please provide your version one, but i'm quite sure this answer suit the question. – Desmond Ho Jul 6 '14 at 8:29

There is probably no one reason why red is considered lucky. But one thing that would encourage it is that China has long had good sources of deep red mercury based pigments. In the ancient world, east or west, strong colored dyes and pigments were hard to find, and people liked them. In the Mediterranean world look at the history of Royal Purple made from certain snails (

Taoist and other ancient Chinese practices associated red mercury ores with blood, and associated the ores and mercury itself with long life. These things were rare enough be valuable but common enough in China to become standard things. And the red mercury compounds are easily made into dyes and pigments-- unlike the green and other colors of jade for example. I do not say this had to make red the color of good luck, but it did make red a natural candidate for that.

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Red represents fire. Fire (離卦) in I-Ching (易經) also represents Light, Warmth, Sun, Smart, Talent, Beauty, etc.

Hence, Red is considered a good color (when used properly).

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