Hong Kong Culture

Other Considerations

  • Mentioning failure, poverty or death may offend a Hong Konger due to superstitions.
  • Spitting, burping and other flatulent sounds and actions are not taboo in Hong Kong.
  • People rarely thank one another for gestures of courtesy (e.g. holding open doors), nor do they apologise when bumping into each other on the street. This cultural difference in manners sometimes leads Australians to interpret them as being rude or disrespectful. However, it is important to consider that these minor incidents and habits are normal and expected. In Hong Kong, because they are anticipated on a daily basis, they need not be addressed. Deep respect and courtesy is perceived and exhibited in different ways.
  • Superstitious Colours: White is typically associated with mourning and death, whilst black refers to evil, death and disaster. Blue is also often associated with death. Red is considered to be a ‘happy’ colour, typically associated with the notions of wealth, fame and luck. However, writing in red is taboo – it relates to blood and was historically used to write bad news or indicate that someone is a blood enemy.
  • Superstitious Numbers: Lucky numbers in Hong Kongese culture are 3, 8, and 9. This is because each number sounds similar to the words for ‘life’, ‘prosperity’, and ‘eternity’. 4 is considered an unlucky number as it’s pronunciation in Cantonese sounds like ‘death’. It is common in Hong Kong for high rises to omit all floor numbers with 4 (e.g., ‘4’, ‘14’, ‘24’...).

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