Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

Chinese celebrate the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) and decorate their doorframe. The most common word that they use is fú (福), meaning happiness or fortune. But you’ll rarely see it upright.

It is said that in the Ming dynasty, the Emperor ordered every household to decorate by pasting fu onto their doors. On New Year’s Day, he sent soldiers to check. They found that one illiterate family pasted the word upside down.

The Emperor ordered the family to be punished by death. Thankfully, the Empress was there and came up with an explanation: “Upside down” (倒—dào) is a homophone of “here” (到—dào). When it’s upside down, it means that fu is here.

The explanation made sense to the Emperor and he set the family free. From then on, people would hang the word upside down, both for fortune and in remembrance of the kind Empress.

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