At Spring Festival there are many ways to decorate, but one of the most common is to paste the character ‘fu’, 福, on doors and windows. There is evidence that this custom dates back to the Song dynasty (AD 960 – 1279).
福 is pronounced fú and means ‘blessings’. It is traditionally handwritten in black or gold ink by itself on square red paper, with the corners pointing in the directions of the compass, and it is hung up facing outwards to keep bad luck away and bring good luck to the home. It is often hung with other decorations, such as couplets and red lanterns.
You’ll often see the character pasted upside down. This is because 福倒了 fú dào le (upside down fu) has exactly the same pronunciation as 福到了, fú dào le (blessings have arrived). Chinese symbols of good luck commonly involve this kind of wordplay. For example, bats are considered a very lucky animal as the word ‘bat’, 蝠, is also pronounced fú, the same as 福.
Fu are usually hung, along with other decorations, on Lunar New Year’s Eve. They can be taken down afterwards, or left up, depending on local traditions. In some places it’s considered unlucky to take them down as it would represent throwing away luck, so they are left up until they fall down.
Take a look at our images below to see some more examples of Fu that people have placed on their homes and businesses in Xiaopu Village (where the Cultural Keys Chinese Culture Centre is located) this Chinese New Year. Click for larger image.
If you want to try for yourself, see the image below for how to write China’s luckiest word!
Did you hang ‘fu’ up this year? How did you choose yours? Let us know in the comments on Facebook or Twitter. For more information about anything listed here, please contact us or use the form below to let us know your specific requirements. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Founded by British expats Nicola Doering and AJ Donnelly, Cultural Keys is run on the love and passion we have for traditional Chinese culture.
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Cultural Keys Chinese Culture Centre
191 (North Door A), Xiaopu North Road
Xiaopu Village, Songzhuang
北京市, 通州区, 宋庄镇,
小堡村, 小堡北街191号 (北门-A)
Monday – Friday: By Appointment
Saturday – Sunday: 12pm – 6pm