Why the “blessing” symbol is upside down?



If you’re living in China or near a Chinese neighborhood, or if you have a Chinese friend that does celebrate Chinese New Year, or you aren’t close to anything Chinese but are able to surf Chinese web sites (who don’t anyways ? 🙂 ), you might have noticed the following festival decoration that is hanging on people’s doors, cars, or walls etc.

Have you ever thought about why it’s hanging upside down? It’s definitely not a random mistake if everybody does that.

Well, before we reveal the mystery, you need to learn these three characters first. Yes, only three characters for this post, I’m easy on you guys due to my festival mood today. 🙂

福 (blessing, luck) 到 (come)倒 (turn upside down)
1. T2-fu
2. T2-dao
3. T2-dao

It’s fairly easy to translate the meaning of blessing word “到(fú dào)” into English:”Blessings come”.

Do you see the third character that I sneaked in after the first two characters in the table – “倒(dào)”? It has the same pronunciation with “到(dào)”, but with a different meaning:” turn upside down”.

Since “福(fú)” is in itself a completely beautiful symbol that’ll look good in any decoration art alone, adding “到” to the art work is a bit too much. Then how can we express the full word of “到”? The answer is using pun to replac “到” with “倒”. So we can explicitly express this character out loud by turning the art work upside down – 福”到”!