The Most Superstitious City On Earth

Hong Kong, according to Ben Carlson:

Here it’s completely normal to shell out for a lucky phone number from a night-market hawker. Tycoons pay millions for license plates with auspicious digits. People spurn secondhand goods because they may be infected with the prior owner’s bad luck. Around Chinese New Year, which just ended, all the shops hire a lion dance troupe to come in and chase out the last year’s bad fortune. Numbers, colors, fruits, clocks, and flowers all have a certain reputation for good or ill, often because they sound like other words. Everyone hates the number 4 because it sounds like the word for “death.” Sixes, eights, and nines are prized because they sound, respectively, like “success,” “fortune,” and “long-lasting.” (It was no accident the Beijing Olympics began at 8:08:08 p.m. on the 8th day of the 8th month of 2008.)

Update from a reader:

I can’t believe Carlson didn’t mention the most prominent piece of Hong Kong superstition: The Repulse Bay, one of the most famous buildings in HK, has a giant hole in the middle, which I was told allowed the dragons in the hills to see the bay. (Though Wikipedia says it’s just for Feng Shui.)

(Photo: Lucky charms at Wong-Tai-Sin Temple by Flickr user Raisa H)