Spring Couplets -- Wishes for a Fresh Start

Spring couplets (Chun Lian in Chinese), written on strips of red paper, are a major part of the Chinese Spring Festival custom. Each Chinese New Year, families in China decorate their front doors with poetic couplets of calligraphy written with fragrant ink and expressing the feeling of life's renewal and the return of spring.

Chun Lian is a special type of Dui Lian, or couplet. While Dui Lian is permanent, Chun Lian is a temporary decoration only used during the Chinese New Year, somewhat akin to Halloween and Christmas decorations.

Chun Lian comprises of a couplet written on vertical strips of red paper in the best calligraphic style on can muster. The first (called upper) line is posted on the right side of the front door. The second (called lower) line is posted on the left side of the front door. In addition, a third horizontal piece may be posted across and on top the door. The two lines of verse should correspond with each other phonologically and syntactically word for word and phrase for phrase.

The themes of the verses would suggest good fortune, longevity, and male offspring. Chinese people have a lot of different kinds of spring couplets. For businessman, they will have special words for earning more money, and gain good reputation around the world. For usual families, they would get some spring couplets listed good fortune, and luck.

In addition to pasting couplets on both sides and above the main door, it is also common to hang calligraphic writing of the Chinese characters for "spring" and "wealth." Some people will even invert these drawings since the Chinese for "inverted" is a homonym in Chinese for "arrive," thus signifying that spring and wealth have arrived.

A Calligrapher would prepare to write by first grinding the dry ink with water on an ink stone, and masterfully move the brush over red paper to produce powerful and clean strokes, forming elegant characters. They compose auspicious couplets for friends, relatives and the public at large. In the past time, children would be given this kind of test or practice.