Colors are important to Chinese culture as they are endowed with lucky meanings. The three main lucky colors considered lucky in people’s daily lives as well as on special occasions are red, yellow, and green.
We have also covered color combinations preferred in China. Lastly, we have provided some insight into unlucky colors for your awareness.
The Top Three Lucky Colors in China
(I) Red — Happiness, Success and Good Fortune
Red represents fire and is the most popular color in China. It is also the national color representing happiness, beauty, vitality, good luck, success and good fortune.
lucky colors in Chinese culture Red envelopes (and unusual yellow envelopes) for lucky money
Red is famously popular in relation to anything Chinese and is widely used during festivals and important events like weddings.
Red lanterns adorn businesses and residences. Double rows of red “Xi” (happiness) letters are pasted on gates and doors. People wear red during weddings, festivals and other celebratory events. Red envelopes are stuffed with money and given as gifts during Chinese New Year.
(II) Yellow — Royalty and Power of the Throne
Yellow — corresponding to earth — symbolizes royalty and is reserved for the emperor.
The first Emperor of China was known as the Yellow Emperor. China was often referred to as ‘Yellow Earth’, and its mother river is the Yellow River. This is the most important color from an ancient perspective.
Chinese emperor clad in royal yellow robesChinese emperor clad in royal yellow robes
During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), yellow glazed tiles were used to build imperial palaces. During Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1636-1911) Dynasties, emperors were dressed in yellow imperial robes. They rode in “yellow palace” carriages and traveled on “yellow paths”. Official flags were yellow.
Official seals were packaged in yellow fabric. Overlooking the Forbidden City from Beijing Jing Mountain, one can see a sea of yellow glazed tile roofs. Gilded copper urns and animals adorn many palaces.
In Chinese Buddhism, yellow is associated with freedom from material needs and monks wear yellow robes.
(III) Green — Money and wealth
Green is the color of wealth, fertility, regeneration, hope, harmony and growth. Green also represents pure and clean.
Buildings, banks and restaurants are often painted in green. Packaging for milk or produce is often in green to indicate that the product is contamination free.
Other Colors of Significance
In Chinese Five Elements Theory, a traditional philosophy about natural interactions used in fengshui etc., red represents ‘fire’, yellow ‘earth’, white ‘metal’, black ‘water’, and green (or blue) ‘wood’.
Chinese Five Elements Theory Colors in Chinese Five Elements Theory
Blue is usually seen in combination with green or black. Blue can represent wood and symbolizes spring and brings a positive meaning.
Blue stands for healing, trust and long life. Shades of green/blue are used to decorate homes for longevity and harmony.
Black corresponds to water and is considered to be a neutral color in Chinese culture and is the color of heaven, symbolizing the northern and western sky. This color represents immortality, knowledge, stability and power.
Because of this, government cars are all black. The police uniform is also black to project authority and control.