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Should you follow local superstitions while in Hong Kong?

Most of our clients are oblivious to superstitions and they are often amazed at the consideration Hong Kong people give to local beliefs when visiting landmarks, temples, and certain places. These are however century-old traditions that can, if not taken seriously, lead to bad omens.

Local superstitions mostly derive from Feng Shui principles, which by using natural energy forces help individuals find harmony with their surrounding environment to bring them happiness. Many are firm believers who cannot go on with their daily lives without touching, wearing, eating or avoiding doing certain things. But no matter how trivial visitors think this is, most of them quickly adhere to these traditions hoping they will bring them luck and prosperity. Here are a few examples:

Rubbing guarding lions
Whether visiting a temple or HSBC’s Central headquarters, it is not unusual to see people rubbing the lions’ paws, bellies and mouths. The guarding lions symbolize prosperity and success, as well as guardianship and it is therefore considered good fortune to rub them to bring luck and wealth.


Using rhyming words
In Cantonese, certain words are celebrated or avoided depending on what they sound like. The number eight, “baat” in Cantonese, sounds like “faat”, which means prosperity and fortune. Eight is therefore considered an auspicious number and is actively used for telephone numbers, car plates, and bank accounts for instance. The opposite goes for the number 4, “Sei” in Cantonese which also means death and is therefore avoided.

Chopsticks etiquette
While on tour, we always encourage our visitors to eat local food with chopsticks. But there is one thing they should avoid doing in fear it might bring bad luck: eating rice with them! In fact, the action of sticking the chopsticks in the bowl of rice resembles the way incense sticks are placed after praying ancestors and could lead to misfortune.

Chinese New Year
This is the time of the year when superstitions are at their wildest, from not cleaning your flat so that good luck is not swept away to not cutting your hair as sharp tools bring bad luck. Most people will also pay attention to what they eat: braised oysters with sea moss “Ho See Faat Choy” which literally means “good affairs and good fortune”, will definitely be on the menu!

So, should you or should you not follow superstitions while in Hong Kong? Well, it is entirely up to you but bear in mind that whatever you do not do might contribute to your misfortune 😉
If you would like to know more about local traditions and superstitions, get in touch at contact@hkalacarte.com