Cultural cues: don't wear a green hat!


WindhorseTour Travel Team's picture

When you are packing for your next trip to China, go ahead and leave the green hat at home. If you walk around the streets of China wearing a green hat, you will definitely be laughed at or stared at, and not just because you are a foreigner! Why, then, do Chinese people avoid wearing green hats when the color green has no cultural significance whatsoever? The answer is in the cultural connotation that green hats have in Chinese culture.

In China, the implication of wearing a green hat is that your spouse is stepping out on your marriage without your knowledge. In fact, "wearing a green hat" in Chinese means that your wife is cheating on you - extremely humiliating and a huge cultural taboo. The saying itself actually stems from an age-old anecdote.

Green hat in China - Chinese Cultural Taboo

In time past, there once was a couple living in a small village in China. The husband travelled a lot for business, while his wife stayed at home maintaining the house. Subsequently, the wife had an extramarital affair with a neighbor who sold fabrics for a living.

Their affair continued on for a quite a while, and one day they were almost discovered by the unwitting husband. In order to keep their long-standing tryst a secret, the wife came up with an idea: she sewed a hat out of green fabric for her husband to wear anytime he traveled and told her lover that it was safe to come over anytime he saw her husband leaving in the green hat.

Shortly afterwards, everyone in the village caught on to the wife's trick, except her husband, of course. Every time the poor cuckold walked down the street in his green hat, everyone who saw him laughed behind his back and snickered when they talked to him. Thus, the tradition of avoiding green hat has been passed down for generations in China, and still holds to this day!

Pack the red hat and you have nothing to worry about! Of course, there are other cultural taboos to be aware of, but those can be learned in time. Thank you for reading, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact us at


Melanie's picture

Wow! That is interesting. Thanks!:)

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