Why the “blessing” symbol is upside down?

Posted by Grace Feng on January 22, 2012

If you’re living in China or near a Chinese neighborhood, or if you have a Chinese friend that does celebrate Chinese New Year, or you aren’t close to anything Chinese but are able to surf Chinese web sites (who don’t anyways ? :-) ), you might have noticed the following festival decoration that is hanging on people’s doors, cars, or walls etc.

Have you ever thought about why it’s hanging upside down? It’s definitely not a random mistake if everybody does that.

Well, before we reveal the mystery, you need to learn these three characters first. Yes, only three characters for this post, I’m easy on you guys due to my festival mood today. :-)

dào dào
福 (blessing, luck) 到 (come) 倒 (turn upside down)
[mp3j track=”T2-fu.mp3″] [mp3j track=”T2-dao.mp3″] [mp3j track=”T2-dao.mp3″]

It’s fairly easy to translate the meaning of blessing word “福到(fú dào)” into English:”Blessings come”.

Do you see the third character that I sneaked in after the first two characters in the table – “倒(dào)”? It has the same pronunciation with “到(dào)”, but with a different meaning:” turn upside down”.

Since “福(fú)” is in itself a completely beautiful symbol that’ll look good in any decoration art alone, adding “到” to the art work is a bit too much. Then how can we express the full word of “福到”? The answer is using pun to replace “到” with “倒”. So we can explicitly express this character out loud by turning the art work upside down – “福”“到”!



You get it, my friend?

By the way, the next “Reading, Listening and Speaking practice” is coming on the Eve of Chinese New Year (Jan 22). You’ll read and listen to the first section of an article on how a Chinese family spend their Chinese New Year Eve together. The other two sections will be published one after another next week. They are more advanced practice than the first one.

恭贺新喜, everyone!


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