What Are Chinese New Year Couplets? -Fai Chun/Chun lian
This article takes you through everything you need to know about Fai Chun.
What Is Fai Chun?
Fai Chun s the Cantonese or the Mandarin word for the traditional Chinese decoration that is a big part of the Chinese New Year. In most parts of the ancient Chain, Fai Chun was placed on people’s doorways, and it would create a perfectly jubilant festive atmosphere. The other thing that made this piece of decoration important is the fact that the Fai Chun symbolized prosperity and good luck.
But customarily, the Fai Chun was scripted by hand, although most of the versions on the market today are printed-out options that are mass-produced. This piece of decoration is available in a rectangular or square shape, and it is common not just in China but also in Japan, Vietnam, and Korea. There are three main types of Fai Chuns; Doufang, Chuntiao, and Chunlian.
History of the Fai Chun
The Fai Chun is an ancient Chinese charm that was originally made of peach wood charms or taofu. These charms represent long pieces of wood that were made to hang down from the peach trees. These peach wood charms are between 7 and 8 inches long and just over one inch wide.
Legend has it that there exists a peach tree located in the East China Sea, which was considered the gate that the ghosts crossed through between the world of the living and the underworld. There also existed two gods, Yulei and Shentu, who were responsible for the guarding of the gates. The gods were also believed to have the power to dispel demons from harming humans at night.
In the same way, people would use the peach wood charms to create the puppets for the two gods, and they would put the charms on their doors and entrance to offer protection. During the reign of the Han Dynasty, the people made puppets using two boards made of peach woods, and they drew portraits of the gods on them. Later, they just wrote the names of the gods on the peach wood charms, then wrote on them and hung them on the doors, on both sides. They were more popular during the reign of the Tang Dynasty, and civilians used these peach woods extensively, writing not just the names of gods on them but also added blessings to symbolize good fortune, as they expressed their hopes for a good life and happiness in the new year.
This is the square-shaped Fai Chun with angles all pointed in the direction of the 4 cardinal points. But because of the limitations in space, this Fai Chun will only display one character, the Chun that means Spring, a man which means Full, or Fu representing Good Fortune. The ‘Man’ symbol is stuck on the rice bins on the refrigerators, and it represents an abundance of food. The Fu symbol, on the other hand, hangs inverted at the center of the door right on purpose because of superstition and the homonymy for the Mandarin words arrival and inverted, which mean good fortune and happiness.
This type of Fai Chun is a horizontal or vertical rectangular decoration carrying between 2 and 4 Chinese characters. The auspicious phrases on the Chuntiao are expressed uniquely, based on different contexts. The most common phrases on the Chuntiao are wishes of good fortune and also wish the people to be affluent. It is also used in the workplace, and it suggests prosperity. In homes, it is called the niánnián yǒuyú to refer to the surplus year, and it is used to wish families excesses in their possessions. Children also get to paste this decoration on their bedroom doors to wish for higher positions and improved academic performance. The elderly hang a version of Chuntiao called the Lóng mǎ jīngshén that is believed to hold power to shelter them from illnesses.
Chunlian (Spring Couplets) Meaning
The Chunlian or the Spring Couplet is the other type of Fai Chun that is made of 7 characters and designed to be placed on both sides of the door frame. Its content is related to spring, and the texts used to adhere to the tonal and lexical rules. These rules are not always adhered to very strictly. In other cases, the spring couplet is in the form of a horizontal scroll that has four or five characters, and it is hung as a crosspiece on the door.
Generally, the content of the Chunlian decoration is about nature’s beauty, patriotism, and also earnestness for a splendid future.
The Chunlian is also an important element that is unfurled in the end during the dragon dance.
Red Couplets Chinese New Year
Fai Chun is, traditionally, bright red, with gold and black characters inscribed on them using a brush. The reason for the use of the color red, the color of fire, has to do with the belief that the red color would scare the barbarous and legendary fierce beast called the Nian. This beast is known for destroying villagers’ crops, livestock, and the villagers themselves. These red couplets represent protection and also the fact that the charms would keep out evil.
The red couplets are viewed as symbols of wealth, joyfulness, and happiness. Ad
Chinese Couplets Examples
The common examples of forms of Fai Chun or rice paper are presented in the form of the Xuan paper. This is a soft and fine texture that is identified thanks to the dynamic and vivid artistic expressions easily. The text is expressed in Chinese calligraphy. But the local Chinese people no longer write on the Fai Chun. They buy them when already printed.
The couplets seen today show how social transformations influence cultures, and today, the couplets feature characters of popular characters like Snoopy, Hello Kitty, and Kanaher’s Small animals.
Most couplets have distinct cartoon characters incorporated on the spring couplets. These represent intercultural communication forms, and these allow the populations from the younger populations to understand the meaning and importance of the cultural artifacts.