41+ Taiwanese Superstitions: Do’s & Don’ts in Taiwan

This blog post discusses Taiwanese superstitions that impact daily life, holidays, and gifts. Keep reading to learn how.

I’ve seen many interesting superstitions throughout my time in Taiwan. I even practice a few of them now (just in case). You’ll see why once you’re done reading this guide.

Important Superstitions for Travelers

  • It doesn’t matter what colors you wear in Taiwan.
  • Avoid the number four. It’s considered unlucky.
  • Don’t stick chopsticks upright in rice. This resembles incense at funerals.
  • Red envelopes on the ground are taboo. Don’t pick them up.
  • Knock before entering a hotel room.
  • Don’t give clocks or umbrellas as gifts.
  • Avoid cutting hair before important events.

The Role of Superstitions in Taiwanese Culture

Superstitions deeply influence the way many Taiwanese people approach life. Particularly during festivals and holidays.

These beliefs stem from ancient folklore and often guide decisions related to gift-giving (avoiding clocks and umbrellas), home practices (not sticking chopsticks in rice), and even luck (stepping in dog poop)

Superstitions add a sense of caution and reverence to daily actions.

Everyday Life (Home, Work, Travel)

Let’s begin with superstitions most people will run into:

  1. Two dogs are bad luck; four dogs bring fortune because the 4 mouths would form the second character of (大器), which means generosity. 2 dogs would form the mouth of (哭), which is cry.
  2. When someone pierces their ears, they won’t be reincarnated as a man.
  3. Wishing on shooting stars brings good luck.
  4. Twitching of the left eyelid is a sign of good fortune, while twitching of the right eyelid is a sign of bad luck.
  5. Avoid cutting hair before competitions or exams since hair represents a person’s “vital energy.”
  6. Students believe trimming their nails before an exam will result in failing grades.

Many of these superstitions don’t fall under home, work, and travel. However, I didn’t know where else to throw these superstitions.

Feeling Nervous? Write “Person” on Your Palm & Swallow It

Calming nerves involves writing the character for “person” (人) on your palm and swallowing it. This symbolic act of consuming your anxieties offers psychological comfort, though likely originated in Japan.

Numbers & Colors

Here are some superstitions regarding numerology and colors:

  1. “4” sounds like the word for death in many languages. Many people will do whatever they can to avoid doing stuff in multiples of 4.
    1. You’ll also want to avoid giving anyone four of an item.
  2. Many believe 8 is the luckiest number because the word for 8 in Mandarin, ba (八), sounds similar to the word for well-off, fa (發).
  3. “7”, qī (七), sounds like “even,” qí (齊), in Mandarin, which means that it’s a great number for relationships.
  4. “6” also refers to providing wealth. 666 isn’t unlucky in Taiwan and other Eastern Countries.
  5. Wear red underwear when playing Mahjong: Red is a lucky color and will supposedly bring you big wins.

Many folks in Asia will do what they can to have a phone number or license plate with as many sixes, sevens, and eights as possible.

For instance, in China, there was a phone number that ended in 5 eights (e.g., 1**-****8-8888). This resulted in a massive bidding war of over 5,000 bids. The winner scored this phone number for 2.25 million yuan ($300,000).

Most of the time, people don’t want these phone numbers and license plates for auspicious reasons. They’re often used to impress business partners, clients, and/or peers.

Here are some interesting food-related superstitions:

  1. Eating fish eyes will make you beautiful, smart, or have better vision.
  2. Don’t eat beef before exams: Many people believe that Wenchang Dijun ( 文昌帝君) rides an ox, so eating beef before an exam would offend him and lead to bad results.
    1. Wenchang Dijun is a god that protects people taking exams.

I couldn’t find that many “actual” superstitions surrounding food. I’ll add more as they surface.

Eating 100 Airplanes will Make Your Wishes Come True

Before air travel was common, many would say that if you spotted an airplane soaring through the sky, you could capture a bit of its air, playfully “eat” it, and make a wish. Legend has it that wishes would come true if you carefully collected and “ate” air from 100 airplanes.

Taiwanese Holidays

I’ll cover superstitions for the following holidays in Taiwan throughout the following sections:

  • Ghost Month
  • Tomb Sweeping Day
  • Lunar New Year
  • Dragon Boat Festival
  • Mid-Autumn Festival
  • Qixi (Double Seventh Day)

1. Ghost Month

Many Taiwanese believe folks SHOULDN’T do the following during Ghost Month:

  1. Completing huge milestones (e.g., buying a house).
  2. Go out at night alone because it makes you vulnerable to spirits.
  3. Turning your entire body when someone taps your head. Because doing so extinguishes the “protective flames” on your body.
    • Just turn your head.
  4. Hang wind chimes or whistle during Ghost Month.
    • Whistling, along with hanging wind chimes, sound similar to souls ringing. These sounds will lure ghosts.
  5. Hanging your wet clothes outside at midnight. Ghosts may also want to wear your clothing to keep themselves warm and enter your home.
  6. Take the last available public transportation for the night. Unless you want to increase your chances of a ghost possessing you.
  7. Swim: Otherwise, spirits will drown you.
  8. Killing insects rare to residential areas. Some believe that relatives visit their peers in the form of a rare bug (reincarnated).
  9. Sitting in the front row at a Taiwanese opera performance, because the first row is reserved for spirits.
  10. Reach for dropped joss paper, because it insults the spirits.
  11. Lean against walls. Ghosts tend to chill near walls to keep themselves cool.
  12. Pee under a tree. This will anger the tree gods.
  13. Colors to avoid: Monochrome outfits of red, white, or black.
  14. Eat meat (if you’re buddhist).

2. Tomb Sweeping Day | 清明節掃墓

Tomb Sweeping Day—清明節掃墓 or Qīngmíng jié sǎomù—is a day where folks get together and pay one’s respect.

Here are superstitions some Taiwanese may observe on this day:

  1. If you’re not a relative, do not light incense; just observe. Otherwise, the spirit will become curious about your unfamiliar face and follow you home.
  2. Dress in neutral colors to avoid attracting spirits.
  3. Tomb Sweeping best before 5 PM due to yin-yang energy.
  4. Avoid old houses due to wandering spirits.
  5. Visit a lively place after tomb sweeping and don’t go directly home to avoid bad luck.
  6. Avoid homes with ancestral tablets during the Qingming Festival.
  7. Don’t take photos of the cemetery. This disrespects ancestors.
  8. Don’t play mahjong, have sex, or produce any loud noises to respect ancestors.
  9. Avoid offering bananas (bad luck), pomelos (symbolizes Buddha’s head), guava (sounds like “ballot”) and tomatoes (resembles blood).
  10. Don’t buy shoes during the festival because they’ll attract spirits.
  11. Don’t sweep graves of folks whose birthdays fall on the Qingming Festival. They’re already considered happy.

I’m sure that I’m missing superstitions. But these should give you a firm understanding of what to avoid during the holiday.

3. Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival has several superstitions like:

  1. Avoid talking about topics like death, because such subjects may curse the speaker.
  2. People believe that if they dispose of their trash during the day of the festival, they’re throwing out their luck, fortune, and energy for the new year.
  3. Don’t sweep on the first few days of the new year. Doing so sweeps the good fortune from their home.
  4. Serve fish with meals during the 15 days of the lunar new year because (魚 – yu) sounds like the word for surplus (餘).
  5. Replacing withering plants will create a circulation of good energy.
  6. Don’t wash your hair on the first day of the new year. The word for hair (髮 – Fà) sounds similar to prosper (發 – Fā); thus, you’d be washing away your prosperity.
  7. Failing to pay off debts will result in becoming poor in the coming year.
  8. Cleaning homes before the first day of the Lunar New Year will remove bad energy and give people a fresh start.
  9. Avoid holding sharp objects (e.g., scissors) during the first few days of the new year. Many believe that such objects will sever their good luck.
    • People cook on the Lunar New Year and use knives. The best explanation that I could find is that essential tasks override the potential risk to good luck.

If any Taiwanese (or Chinese) person has a better explanation about using a knife on the Lunar New Year for cooking, please let me know.

Stay Up Late During Lunar New Year’s Eve

In Taiwan and other Eastern countries, people will stay up past midnight on the Spring Festival’s Eve.

In ancient times, people stayed up late to watch for the mythical Nian, which would usually attack Chinese villages. They believed that keeping their homes and streets lit would deter this beast.

Nowadays, people stay awake past midnight to “preserve” time.

4. Dragon Boat Festival

Here’s everything to AVOID on the day (or days leading to) the Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan::

  1. Swimming: This superstition is based on the belief that the waters are especially dangerous on this day, and that swimmers are more likely to drown.
  2. The 5 poisons: The five poisons are snakes, centipedes, scorpions, lizards, and toads.
    1. They are believed to be especially active on this day, and can cause harm to people.
  3. Well water: This superstition is based on the belief that the well water is contaminated on this day.
    1. People are instead encouraged to drink rainwater or boiled water.
  4. “Evil day”: This is the day of the summer solstice, and it is believed to be a time of increased yin energy, which can harm people’s health.
    1. Many people will send babies under 1 year old to their grandmother’s house to “hide.”
  5. Washing clothes: This superstition is based on the belief that the laundry water is contaminated on this day.
  6. Do not lose the sachet worn by children: These sachets are filled with herbs and other protective charms, and are believed to ward off evil spirits.
    1. If a child loses their sachet, it is believed that they will be more vulnerable to harm.
  7. Sex on the Nine Poisonous Days: These are the 9 days leading up to the Dragon Boat Festival.
    1. It is believed that sexual intercourse during this time can be harmful to both partners.
  8. Arguing: Arguing is believed to create negative energy, which can attract bad luck.
  9. Eating cold food: It’s believed to be harmful to the body’s digestion, and can make people more susceptible to illness.
  10. Moving to a new place: Moving is believed to be a bad omen on this day, and can bring misfortune to the new home.

These superstitions are still widely observed in Taiwan today. Many people believe they can help protect them from harm and bring good fortune.

5. Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival (also Mooncake Festival or Moon Festival) symbolizes folks’ path to good fortune. We’re sure to find a fair number of superstitions on this day.

And here they are:

  1. Avoid swimming at night to respect the moon god.
  2. Raise your bangs to receive blessings from the moon god.
  3. People with weak health or physical conditions should avoid moon viewing.
    • Viewing the moon could adversely affect people lacking sufficient yang energy.
  4. Avoid displaying fake flowers to attract good fortune.
  5. Avoid visiting places with heavy yin energy to prevent bad luck.
  6. Eat round mooncakes and fruits (e.g., pomelos) for family harmony.
    • Round shapes are associated with wholeness and unity, making them ideal for a festival centered around family reunions.

One more holiday.

6. Qixi Festival | 七夕

The Qixi Festival, or Chinese Valentine’s day, happens in August and comes with these superstitions:

  1. Don’t break up with your partner on Qixi. Doing so will result in a lack of blessings and unhappiness.
  2. Avoid moving children’s beds to prevent them from losing their “blessing power.”
  3. Avoid eating beef on Qixi to respect 牛郎 (Niúláng), a celestial figure also known as “Cowherd”.
  4. Avoid scolding children to avoid angering 床母 (Chángmǔ), the protector of children.
  5. Worship 床母 (Chángmǔ) between 4:00 PM and 6:30 PM for children’s well-being.
    1. Don’t offer fish, alcohol, green vegetables, chopsticks, or sunflower seeds.
  6. Avoid clothing with holes to prevent shortcomings in a relationship.
  7. Don’t let your kids take dolls to bed. Otherwise, you’ll confuse 床母.

Why are so many of these superstitions focused on children? Even though it’s “Valentines” Day. Until around 20 or 30 years ago, the holiday primarily focused on worshiping 床母 (Chángmǔ), the bed mother. I couldn’t find much other evidence as to why [1].

However, the current holiday primarily focuses on celebrating the legend of the cowherd (牛郎; Niulang) and weaver maiden (織女; Zhinu).

Kuai Kuai Culture: Blessing Technology (and Beyond)

Rules of the Kuai Kuai:

  • Only new bags of Kuai Kuai: Cannot place a half-eaten or empty bad of Kuai Kuai on a machine.
  • Cannot be expired: The snacks will not optimally perform if expired.
  • Must be the green bag: The red and orange bags will cause machines to malfunction.
    • Since red and yellow lights represent warning and error lights on machines.
  • More bags don’t mean better performance: It doesn’t matter if you add more than 1 bag.

Kuai Kuai (乖乖) are Taiwanese puff corn snacks. The term “Kuai Kuai” means “well-behaved” or “obedient” in Mandarin Chinese.

Throughout Taiwan, office workers, government facilities, and factories place these snacks by machines to “bless” their machines. People believe that the “well-behaved” god (乖乖大神) will keep the devices running smoothly.

This is Kuai Kuai Culture.

person holding a green bag of kuai kuai, taiwanese snacks
Holding a green bag of Kuai Kuai.

I also do this. So far, my laptop has been behaving.

Many people think it’s better to believe it than not to. It’s a harmless and cute superstition.

I’ll need to write a separate article about this. I dove down the Kuai Kuai rabbit hole and almost didn’t come out.


Here are Taiwanese superstitions related to animals:

  1. Stepping in (specifically) dog poop will bring you good luck.
    1. This superstition doesn’t apply to other animals.
  2. Saliva from male cats is toxic.
  3. Stray dogs that are solid black are most likely to be killed and eaten.
    1. They’re considered unlucky.
  4. * Few folks in the countryside believe that cutting off cats’ tails will bring good luck since cat’s tails hold “magical powers.”
  5. Cats with white paws are unlucky.

* All cats I’ve seen in Taiwan have long tails. Thus, I don’t think Taiwanese people hunt cats, lob off their tails, and keep them for their power.

There were some superstitions that I don’t know whether are true, but really bummed me out to read. Check them out in this forum post. Take everything they say with a grain of salt. Because I couldn’t find any information about most of those superstitions (in English).


Avoid giving the following gifts to anyone in Taiwan:

GiftTabooFurther Description
Clocks or WatchesYou’re essentially sending someone off.NA
Scissors or KnivesCuts the relationshipNA
ShoesSounds like “leaving”鞋 (xié) – sounds like 邪 (xié) – leaving
White FlowersAssociated with funeralsNA
UmbrellasSounds like “breaking up”傘 (sǎn) – sounds like 散 (sàn) – breaking up
Pears or PlumsSounds like “separation”梨 (lí) or 李 (lǐ) – sounds like 離 (lí) – separation
Sets of FourUnlucky number (death)NA
HandkerchiefsBelieved to bring bad fortune.Since it’s used to wipe away tears.
Empty Wallet/PurseGifting emptiness implies financial hardshipNA
Red pensRed ink is considered writing someone’s name in blood.I’ll explain more later.

If you accidentally give someone any of the above items or want a pair of shoes as a gift like me, there’s a solution to the adverse effects.

Give the person, or have them give you, any amount of money to “buy” the gift. You, or them, can even give an amount as small as NTD$1 ($0.03). This is what many Taiwanese people told me to do.

Taboo Words & Actions

I recommend avoiding these actions while you’re in Taiwan (just in case):

  • Don’t pat gamblers’ backs: When people gamble, they obviously need good luck to win. If you pat someone on their shoulder or back while they’re gambling, you’re causing them to have bad luck.
    • The character for back, bei (背), also means good luck. 
  • Avoid leaving chopsticks vertically in a bowl: It looks like your meal has incense sticks sprouting from it. Thus, you are “attracting” unwanted spirits or bad luck to wherever you’re dining.
  • Don’t point at the moon: If you use your index finger to point at the moon—it doesn’t matter the time of day or lunar phase—Chang’e will consider that disrespectful and nick your ear. Or cut it off.
  • Don’t write people’s name in red ink: Many consider red ink to symbolize blood. Writing someone’s name in “blood”, implies that the person could suffer soon.
    • Stick with black or blue ink when signing names.
  • Don’t use an umbrella indoors

Here are some taboo actions that deserve dedicated sections.

1. Don’t Pick Up Red Envelopes on the Ground

Usually, people give each other money in red (lucky) envelopes throughout the year. If you find a red envelope on the ground, it’s likely a trap.

That’s because parents of a deceased adult woman want someone to marry their daughter’s spirit. They’ll stuff money inside the envelope, place it on the ground, and wait for someone to snatch it.

Upon someone grabbing it, they’ll leap out of hiding and require the person who picked up the lucky envelope to wed their specter daughter. That would also be a pretty bad jump scare.

While you could refuse the demand, you would have nightmares of a crying woman until you comply.

You’re better off just not picking money off the ground in Taiwan.

2. Knock Before Entering a Hotel Room

Before entering a hotel room, knock on the door first, say “sorry for the intrusion,” and step to the side for a second. That way, any spirits residing within the room can exit. Once you enter the room, you’ll want to flush the toilet once.

Does this superstition also apply to Airbnbs? Yep.

People believe that if they don’t announce they’re entering, the specter will assume there’s a home invader. This could bring you bad luck during your stay.

3. Stay Away From Lü Dongbin Temples if You Value Your Relationship

Lü Dongbin is one of the Eight Immortals of Daoism (Taoism) who helps people gain wisdom.

He has many temples throughout Taiwan. Some of these temples include:

  • Pinglin Nanshan Temple, New Taipei
  • Xizhi Gongbei Temple, New Taipei
  • Nanfangao Nantian Temple, Yilan
  • Zhinan Temple‎, Taipei

If you and your partner are young, avoid visiting temples that worship him. He’s a jealous type and will do what he can in an attempt to break up your relationship.

Don’t go to these temples if you’re taking a Taiwanese person on a date. Unless they don’t care about this superstition.

How Younger Generations View These Superstitions

Based on the young people I’ve talked to (between 24 and 30 years old), many young people observe SOME traditions. For instance, my wife believes in knocking on a hotel room to avoid bad luck.

I couldn’t find any statistics on the number of young people in Taiwan who observe these.


What Colors Shouldn’t I Wear in Taiwan?

It doesn’t matter. However, avoid bright colors (red and green) during funerals. Instead, wear black, white, or gray.

What Color Is Lucky in Taiwan?

Red and gold are considered lucky colors in Taiwan, symbolizing joy, prosperity, and good fortune.