red bracelets in china

I see a lot of these thin red bracelets in China. They look a bit like the Kabbalah bracelets that Madonna & Co. used to wear, and I’ve been wondering what they symbolize here (because it’s probably not Kabbalah).

But it turns out that they have a similar purpose — to keep bad luck away. My Chinese friends told me that they wear these bracelets during the year of their zodiac sign (which comes around every 12 years) to bring good fortune. They believe that you’re more vulnerable during your zodiac year or something like that. My friend C, who wore her red bracelet last year during the Year of the Bunny Rabbit, told me that the bracelet is also an easy way to know someone’s age — 12, 24, 36, 48, etc.

But it doesn’t just stop at bracelets! You should wear red as much as possible: socks, clothes, underwear! This business about red underwear reminded me of the special underwear worn by Mormons (which is a little factoid I learned from my Sweet + Condensed friend maaaaaany years ago), and I had so many questions: do you have to wear them everyday or just special days? Weekends? Weekdays? Birthday? Do you wear them the entire year?
To which C responded: “Well, it depends… on how many pairs of red underwear you choose to buy and how often you wash them.” What?! So logical!

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