Green Hats in Chinese Culture

Main piece:

Green hats in Chinese culture means that your spouse is cheating on you. Chinese people avoid green hats.

Background information (Why does the informant know or like this piece? Where or who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them?):

My parents, my mom and my dad. I was at the Nordstrom Rack with my mother one day and I came across a green hat, and I wanted to buy it but my mom wouldn’t let me. She said it was bad luck. I was eight or nine at the time. She was just like- it’s a bad thing. If you wear a green hat, it’s just bad, like why would you do that, you know? If I see someone wearing a green hat, I’ll think about it and laugh about it to myself. I would not buy a green hat.


Context (When or where would this be performed? Under what circumstance?):

I wouldn’t talk to people about it. If I see someone wearing a green hat, and I’m close enough with them and already talking to them, then I might be comfortable enought to share that little tidbit of my mind. Like I wouldn’t go up to a stranger and be like “Did you know?!?!” It’s not something I tell people, I have to be comfortable enough with them to talk about it.

Personal Analysis:

The forbiddance of certain colors has always been fascinating to me as an American- our culture has very few colors that explicitly mean one thing when coupled with an article of clothing or an item. Wedding dresses are white as a symbol of purity; we wear black at funerals to express mourning or loss. However, there is nothing as explicit as “This color and this article of clothing means someone is cheating on you.” It is interesting to see, in a culture already dominated by tradition and custom, how far these beliefs will extend into society. It also hints at the unwillingness to be direct, whether verbally or in action.



Here is another version of the green hat warning, though it explicitly refers to a woman cheating on a man.

“In China ‘wearing a green hat’ (戴绿帽子 or dài lǜ mào zǐ) is an expression that Chinese use when a woman cheats on her husband or boyfriend because the phrase sounds similar to the word for cuckold. This apparently dates back to the Yuan dynasty when the relatives of prostitutes were forced to wear green hats.

“Green Hat a No-No.” Randomwire. N.p., 03 Dec. 2009. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.