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The word for eight – 8 in Chinese Putonghua is pronounce bā which sounds similar to the word fa which means fortune, prosper or wealth. In the regional Cantonese dialect it is pronounce baat which also rhymes faat.
When a baby is born, eight numbers related to its birth are recorded 2 for the year, two for the month, 2 for day and two for the time of the birth. When the child matures to adulthood, these 8 numbers are used by the matchmaker to find him/her a spouse whose 8 numbers is compatible. One school of fortune telling uses these 8 numbers to reveal the fortune and destiny of the person.
When two number eights are put together, 88, it resembles the abstract form of the Chinese character for double happiness, shuang xi, 喜喜, a popular decorative symbol (composed of two stylized喜 – xi, joy, happiness) frequently used in wedding celebrations.
Due to the auspicious nature of figure 8, Chinese people have a fixation on it. Car licenses, telephone numbers, bank numbers and credit card numbers with a figure 8 are highly sought after. Even the Summer Olympics in Beijing to be held in 2008 is scheduled to open on 8/8/08 at 8:08:08 p.m.
The figure 8 is basically two zeros put together, one on top of the other. Some people also think that it is associated with the symbol infinity (an 8 turned 90 degrees). If you write out the figure 8 you can keep going and never ending; indeed it is infinity.
The shape of figure 8 is round, smooth, continuous and never ending and symbolises prosperity, good fortune and double happiness when two eights – 88 – are put together.
Hence, when we wear clothing or jewellery bearing the symbol or motif of 8, it is believed that it will bring us good luck.