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.


  • 3
    This is not a Chinese language question. Shame we don't have a Chinese culture Q&A site :( Jul 4, 2014 at 4:50
  • @congusbongus maybe it fits under History? Though the knowledge of Chinese culture is probably pooled here?
    – Ming
    Jul 4, 2014 at 5:32
  • 1
    I'm a Chinese, and I don't think 'Red' implies lucky...
    – Bruce Lu
    Jul 4, 2014 at 5:53
  • here's a list of proverbs/idioms with red in there
    – Fabricator
    Jul 9, 2014 at 4:52

3 Answers 3


Here we have an old tale in China, saying that there is a beast called the "Nian" (年獸), and it will only attack people in spring. But it's afraid of all things red.

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

More information about Nian can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nian

  • 2
    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, 2014 at 5:55
  • 1
    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, 2014 at 11:58
  • 1
    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, 2014 at 5:47
  • 1
    Why is 年 afraid of red? Jul 5, 2014 at 6:53
  • 1
    @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, 2014 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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrian_purple).

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.


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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