[Culture] Fortune has arrived

Upside down fortune

Remember how I mentioned that Chinese people love to play on words? That's the case with some Chinese/Lunar New Year's greetings, and even the case with some of our decorations! By these little associations and play on words, we find ways to 'change our luck' and 'renew' it.

Earlier in the afternoon when Ruben and I were partaking in some of the Chinese New Year celebrations happening in Belmore Park, I noticed the upside down fu2 (福) character atop one of the stalls in the park which were selling new year's decorations. I pointed it out to Ruben who immediately noticed that it was the wrong way around and assumed it had been done in error. I provided him a somewhat convoluted explanation as to why this was the case, but as knowledgeable as I pretended to sound, I hadn't know the reason for it either, when I'd first seen this practiced around Hong Kong during my trip there last month. I only had the advantage of assuming that given the Asian population, they would have known better than I what was right and what wasn't.

The 福 character means/represents luck, fortune, happiness.. all of those kinds of well wishings and it's frequently seen hung up during Chinese New Year along with four character sayings, and other words like 'Spring' (春), given that CNY is a Spring Festival. The reason which the 福 character is hung upside-down is because having the character upside-down can be described as 'fu2 dao4 le' (福到了), which can also be read as '(good) fortune has arrived', as a homophonic play on words.

The upside down fu becomes a pun that implies "good fortune has arrived". Thus,the paper squares represent the "arrival" of spring and the "coming" of prosperous year. - Kekenet.com

You can read about some of the history around this here. I wasn't aware of this either, and it's an interesting read. :)