Chinese New Year Symbols

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Chinese New Year symbols are inseperable from Chinese Spring festival, or Chun Jie in Mandarin.

There are quite a few symbols that are assocciated with Chinese New Year, and each of these symbols has its own importance and deep meaning. One thing in common is that they are all point to prosperity and happiness.

While the New Year might be about a list of resolutions for some, it's about hope for many others. Chinese New Year symbols are folks' ways to use common objects that are bestowed with meanings to give fate a push in the right direction. People place their hopes on these symbols and wish the New Year is a new beginning of a good life.

We present two sets of Chinese symbols here. One set is for celebrations, one has character symbols that implies luck, prosperity and happiness. Some of the symbols are includes in both catagories.

Here are some of the top most used lucky symbols. The following are the common symbols of a Chinese New Year Celebration:

Lucky Character

fu-spring-coupletsThe well used lucky character fu is Fu (sounds like "Foo"). It's a indispensable Chinese New Year symbol that means good luck, blessings, and good fortune and is often displayed in many homes and storefronts, either accompanying spring couplets or standing alone.

And the way to display it is peculiar. People normally hang it in the center of their door like shown on the right picture, either with spring couplets or standing alone, and hang it upside down like shown in the picture below.

fu daoTo put something upside down may feel strange to people who are not familiar with the custom. But to the Chinese, there is a very auspicious reason behind. "Upside down" in Mandarin is a single character homophone to the character that means "come". When you go to visit a family or a store and tell the host or the owner that their Fu is upside down in Mandarin, you're basically saying "your blessing/fortune/luck is coming." And it indeed is a pretty good greeting.

The lucky character is usually written by brush on a diamond-shaped piece of red paper. It comes with various writing styles. Like spring couplets, people can either buy it or have a person who is good at calligraphy to write it.

Plum Blossoms

Plum BlossomsPlum blossoms are called Mei Hua in Mandarin. Mei sounds like "may". It is one of the four Chinese national plants that have symbolic spritual meanings. They often appear in Chinese literature, songs, art and stories.

Plum blossoms burst forth at the end of winter on a seemingly lifeless branch when the weather can still be pretty bleak. The beauty of the flower and the severity of the weather forms a strong contraction. People appreciate its brave beauty and praised it in some well known poems and literatures.

As the time went by, it gradually became a Chinese New Year's symbol for courage and hope, which suits the spirit of a New Year.

Tray of Togetherness

Among all the Chinese New Year's symbols, this one is not very obvious.

It is a hospitality custom to prepare a tray of dried fruits, candies and nuts during Spring Festival and serve when visitors come. This tray is called a chuen-hop by many, meaning "tray of togetherness".

The common nuts prepared are peanuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, pinecone seeds, etc. Many families have sweets made with candy and nuts. This Chinese New Year symbol was traditionally made up of eight compartments. Eight is considered auspicious number by Chinese, because it sounds like "prosperous". That's why eight and its combinations such as 88 and 888 are very hot for adresses, car license numbers and phone numbers.

In the eight apartments, a special food item is filled and each has its own symbolic meaning and good wish to the New Year. For this tradition, the older people are more aware of it and tend to consciously to maintain the tradition while the younger generation see it more as a way to show your hospitality and choose trays with any style such as a China's map (shown as below), and any number of apartments they like.

tray of togetherness Modern Trays of Togetherness

Chinese Sacred Lily (Water Narcissus)

NarcissusThe Chinese sacred lily is a Chinese New Year symbol that signifies good luck and fortune.

The Chinese sacred lily is actually water narcissus that blossoms at New Year's time. It is an important element in the Chinese Spring Festival. People buy the flower before the Chinese New Year, believing and hoping it blooms on the first day of the lunar new year to bring the best luck to them for the ensuing twelve months. plum-blossoms-narcissus

It can be arranged in an artistic way to bring out the best look of this flower.

On the right is a painting that puts two of the Chinese New Year symbols, plum blossoms and narsissus, as well as a song bird together for a good wish to the New Year.


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