For a lot of people, spring couplets or chun lian (春联) are just words written on red paper and pasted around doors like posters.
But for the Chinese, they play a very significant role in welcoming a year filled with blessings and prosperity.
They are so named because the Chinese new year commences in spring and the nature of them created in pairs.
One would contain the first verse of writings, and the other would contain the seconds verse.
Some of the other aliases of spring couplets include:
- Dui zhi (对子)
- Dui lian (对联)
- Chun tie (春贴)
- Tao fu (桃符)
What they are called would very much depend on the locality of where it is mentioned.
But whatever it’s name, there is no doubt to it’s implied meanings of auspicious good fortune.
Origins of spring couplets
Before it’s evolution to spring couplets in it’s present form, they originate from peach wood charms that were meant to display the two door gods during CNY that were believed to be able to protect a house from evil and bad intentions.
Because of the added time and resources required to carve or draw the door gods onto wood, red paper were slowly used to replace the peach wood blocks that were traditionally used.
Auspicious phrases then started to be included in the red paper to invite positive energy into the house.
And as time passed, the door gods were slowly omitted from the red paper altogether.
To reinforce how highly regarded spring couplets were to the Chinese, even emperors were documented to have specifically mentioned them during festivities.
What make a good pair of spring couplets
While couplets these days come in all types of shapes and sizes, the main differentiating factor that turns the typical couplet to a good one is the words that are written on it.
Beautifully written phrases with flow and profound meaning behind them are often lauded for their brilliance.
This can also be observed in ancient history when emperors were known to give widespread recognition to scholars who were able to produce auspicious thought-invoking and poetic sentences on spring couplets.
These days spring couplets don’t just make appearances during the new year, but also at various other auspicious events such as weddings, birthdays, opening ceremonies, etc.
Their placement is also no longer limited to both sides of the door. But are basically pasted anywhere a homeowner feels is appropriate.
Something interesting to note is that when the word you (酉) is found on spring couplets, it has an inclination towards peace and prosperity.
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