As the saying goes, you see a sea of red when the stock market is going down and a sea of green when the market is going up. Well, if you’re in China, that’s not quite right! In Chinese culture, there is a strong symbolism of colors that can lead to cultural misunderstandings for Americans.
When keeping an eye on the Chinese stock markets, remember that in China the color red symbolizes success, while green symbolizes failure, especially when it comes to money.
In China, the stock markets use the exact opposite color scheme from the West. When the stock market is going up, the upward arrows along with all the numbers are typed in red, and when the stock market is going down, the downward arrows along with all the numbers are typed in green.
So, next time, if you happen to hear the Chinese news anchor saying that the Shanghai Stock Exchange is in a sea of green, don’t get too excited!
White Wedding… not!
Stock markets aside, the symbolism of color plays an important role in other factors of Chinese culture. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, there are only two forms of celebrations in China – the “red” and the “white.”
The “red” celebration usually signifies a major milestone that can add life to your family, such as child birth and marriage. The color red can also lend itself to major events such as graduation and job promotion. The “white” celebration, on the other hand, is only used to signify the saintly passing of a family member who was able to live to a ripe old age.
It was only in recent history that people in China started to view the color white as a color suitable for marriage. But then again, this notion usually only caters to people who are more western-minded. For those hardcore Chinese who prefer to hold on to their traditional values, red is still the color of choice when it comes to marriage, and white is reserved for death rites.
[Pictures used in this article credited to Katrina Tuliao and Augapfel]