七 qī (seven)

Chinese: 七

Pinyin: qī

English: seven

Imagery: a bent dagger

History of character: The character originally looked like two crossing lines (十) which meant to divide the entirety of something or to cut. Since it looked very similar to character “ten” (十), the vertical stroke of character “seven” was later bent for differentiation between the two. Now it simply means seven. Traditionally, Chinese funeral ceremonies last for seven weeks (49 days) after one’s death. The ceremony service falls on each seventh day within 49 days. The first seven days (头七) are considered the most important. It is believed that the spirit of the dead family member will return to his/her home on the seventh day after his/her death. Family members are expected to remain in the rooms, prepare a meal and pray for the returning spirit.

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