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Last Updated: Friday, 5 November, 2004, 12:41 GMT
Lucky number for Chinese Olympics
A woman writes her wishes at a temple in Beijing
The Chinese culture is rich in tradition and superstition
The 2008 Beijing Olympics will begin at 8pm on 8 August, in keeping with one of the nation's lucky numbers.

Eight is considered auspicious in China because its pronunciation in Cantonese sounds the same as the word for to make money.

The Games had originally been planned to commence in late August to avoid Beijing's soaring summer temperatures.

But Beijing's mayor said the sporting festival would begin in the luckiest manner possible - at eight on 8/8/08.

Mayor Wang Qishan conceded it would still be hot in early August, with the temperature often climbing above 40 degrees Celsius.

The earlier start is to avoid clashes with sporting events in the United States, including the tennis US Open and Major League baseball, the mayor said.

No sevens or fours

Chinese culture is steeped in superstition, with numbers playing a major role in birthdays, wedding dates and naming.

Six, eight and nine are considered lucky numbers, while four, seven and even one are considered more unfortunate.

The pronunciation of nine means everlasting, particularly in relationships, while six means things will go smoothly.

Telephone numbers, licence plates and even residential or business addresses which use any of or a combination of those numbers are extremely popular and often cost more.

Conversely, anything involving the numbers four and seven are avoided as much as possible. Four sounds like the Chinese word for death. Seven translates as "gone" which can also mean death, while one can signify loneliness.

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