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Blogmas Day 16: The Unlucky Number 4: Superstitions in Chinese Culture

people walking on street with red dragon statue during daytime

Growing up in Scarborough-Agincourt, a vibrant mosaic of cultures in Toronto, I was immersed in a tapestry of traditions and beliefs from various communities. Among the rich array of cultural influences, the Chinese-Canadian community’s practices often stood out, offering intriguing insights into superstitions and beliefs that shaped everyday life.

Navigating Cultural Crossroads: A Personal Perspective

Scarborough-Agincourt, with its sizable Chinese-Canadian population, provided a unique lens through which to witness the intersection of cultures. Growing up in this multicultural enclave, I became attuned to the nuances and significance of various cultural beliefs, particularly those of the Chinese superstition surrounding the number 4.

The Significance of Numbers in Chinese Culture

In the mosaic of cultural beliefs, certain numbers carry profound weight, transcending their numerical value to embody symbolic meanings. Among these, the number 4 stands out as a figure steeped in superstitions and symbolic associations within Chinese culture.

Tetraphobia: An Unspoken Presence

Tetraphobia, the fear or aversion to the number 4, quietly influences daily life in Chinese communities. The pronounced phonetic similarity between the word for “four” (“sì” – 四) and the word for “death” (“sǐ” – 死) in Mandarin amplifies this superstition. The avoidance of the number 4 in various aspects of life, from addresses to phone numbers and even in business practices, reflects the pervasive influence of this belief.

Chinese Culture in Multicultural Enclaves

Scarborough-Agincourt serves as a microcosm of multiculturalism, where diverse traditions intersect and coexist. Within this dynamic setting, the influence of Chinese cultural beliefs, including superstitions related to the number 4, weaves itself into the fabric of daily life. From building designs to personal preferences, the subtle avoidance of the number 4 manifests even outside explicitly Chinese contexts.

Embracing Cultural Diversity

Understanding and appreciating the significance of cultural beliefs like the superstition surrounding the number 4 fosters cross-cultural empathy and appreciation. Growing up in a multicultural neighbourhood provided firsthand exposure to the multifaceted nature of beliefs, enriching my perspective and fostering a deep respect for diverse cultural practices.

Conclusion: Cultural Insights and Multicultural Upbringings

The superstitions surrounding the number 4 in Chinese culture, witnessed firsthand in Scarborough-Agincourt’s diverse tapestry, serve as a poignant reminder of the intricate interplay between cultural beliefs and daily life. Embracing multiculturalism nurtures a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives, promoting inclusivity and fostering a richer tapestry of shared experiences.

Miroslav Glavić

My name is Miroslav Glavić. I am the Chief Miroslav Officer for
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