Head over heels for luck

January 31st, 2011

It’s the time of the year again. While back at home people struggle to get past the dreadfully long weeks to Easter and Springtime, the Chinese are as excited as can be: It’s time for their New Year!

And again it’s a wild mix of left-over Christmas trees, Santa Claus posters and blinking light strings, mixed with never-ending fireworks and the visible symbols of the changing of the lunar year.

The hanging fish, Chinese knots, “bowing couple” hangers and pictures are ever-present. Not going into the details of those, today we want to focus on another interesting and very Chinese symbol, the “福”, or “Fu dao” as it is called.

The character Fu means luck, which in the Western mind would be good enough to put onto a piece of cardboard and hang up onto a wall. A glass of sparkling stuff and off we go with the holiday feeling!

Mister Li and his gang though have another level of cleverness.
When you look at the picture you might notice a slight difference to the character I wrote down earlier-yes, indeed, the sign is hanging upside down!
‘Well, Mister Li must have had one or two bottles of Baijiu’ when decorating the house you may think. But no-this is actually done on purpose and there’s some quite interesting thinking behind it.

This is where “Dao” comes into play. It means upside down, and so it very accurately describes our little sign. But as another character with the same pronunciation, it also means ‘arrive’.
So, the headstanding lucky symbol “Fu dao” means “may luck arrive here”!

Let’s just hope it works. I’m sure somebody forgot to put a Fu Dao sign onto the Mandarin Oriental hotel two years ago. And subsequently it burned down and became the BBQ building of the city.
Although, it would certainly deserve a bit of luck these days with its ripped-apart look, now that they have started to really work on it. Noone knows yet what the refurbished building will look like, but here’s a proposal: just build it the same way as before, only upside down. That should do for a prosper future.

Hoppy bunny year everyone!

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