With black or golden characters written on red paper, Spring Festival Couplets are composed of a pair of poetry lines vertically pasted on both sides of the front door and a four-character horizontal scroll affixed above the doorframe. Pasting couplets expresses people’s delight in the festival and wishes for a better life in the coming year.
Legend and History
Spring Couplets originated from Taofu, an inscription on boards made from peach trees in the Zhou Dynasty (1046 - 256 BC). According to the legend, in the ghost world, a rooster perching in a big peach tree will crow at dawn to call all the traveling ghosts back. In front of the entrance of the dark world, there are two guards named Shentu and Yulei. If the ghosts harm any people at night, the guards will kill them as the tiger’s breakfast. People believed that peach trees can scare and subdue evil things, so they hung peach boards in front of the doors with the guards’ names written or inscribed on them.
During the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279 AD), the wood board was replaced by paper, and people focused more on bright wishes for the future. The custom became popular in Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD). When the Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang traveled for inspection, he found those pairs of scrolls interesting. In order to advocate and promote this cultural activity, he ordered all household to paste the scrolls during the Chinese New Year. This tradition continues today.
上联：丹凤呈祥龙献瑞 [dān fèng chéng xiáng lóng xiàn ruì]
下联：红桃贺岁杏迎春 [hóng táo hè suì xìng yíng chūn]
横批：福满人间 [fú mǎn rén jiān]
Upper Scroll: Dragon and phoenix bring the prosperity
Lower Scroll: Peach and apricot blossoms welcome the spring
Horizontal Scroll: Blessing on the Land