The Chinese character Fu means good luck and happiness. During the time of Spring festival, almost every family in China would hang the word upside down, believing that doing so would cause good fortune to literally descend down on their house.
Many foreigners who visit China during Spring festival or those who have an interest in Chinese culture and are taking Mandarin classes Singapore wonder why do Chinese people hang their blessing symbol upside down. Well, there are several traditional explanations behind this practice, all equally interesting and intriguing.
Here are two most interesting and popular traditional explanations.
It is said that a long time ago, one family made an honest mistake while the blessing sign on the front of their house. Instead of placing the symbol in the correct the way like others, the family placed the symbol upside down. Now whenever visitors came to their house during the Chinese New Year and say that the Fu sign was placed upside down, they commented: “Your Fu is upside down”. However, the words for “to arrive” and “upside down” are almost homophonous.
So when people said that your “Fu upside down” it sounded as “Fu arrives”, and thus the practice of placing the beautifully-carved Fu character upside down during Spring festival started as it was a manifestation of the natural wish for wealth and prosperity to arrive at a house.
The second interpretation attributes the pasting of Fu upside down to the Princess of Gong of the Qing Dynasty. The Princess had a butler who wanted to impress his master. So on the New Year’s Eve, the butler wrote Fu on several papers and made arrangements to have them pasted all around the mansion. He hired men for this purpose, but one person was illiterate and hanged Fu upside down on the mansion’s front gate.
When the prince saw this, he was naturally very angry and wanted to punish the guilty party. However, the butler was a quick thinker and pleaded to his master that his master has great fortune and today indeed great fortune has arrived, which is a very good sign. The prince bought this version and thought to himself that this explains why everyone who went past his mansion was saying that great fortune has arrived in the house of Prince. He further thought that once this saying is said a thousand times on an auspicious day like this, his weal might increase manifold.
Happy that good fortune has arrived in his dwelling, the Prince then awarded the butler as well as the illiterate servant who had pasted Fu upside down on his door. And from this occurrence, the practice of arranging Fu upside down started. Every Spring festival, families paste it upside down in hope that good fortune will arrive at their house.
The Chinese have a rich, vibrant, and colorful culture. Learning the language will help you understand the Chinese culture much better. If you want to learn Chinese in Singapore, you should join a regular language class, as this is the best way to learn the language.