“Fu” is certainly a lucky word for Chinese. It means fortune, luck, blessings and happiness. The tradition of pasting the character “Fu” on walls, doors and doorposts especially during Chinese New Year has existed among Chinese for such a long time. Chinese like to paste the “Fu” character calligraphed on red paper upside down intentionally.
Fu(福) is written on the paper squares, which can be pasted normally or upside down, for in Chinese the “reversed fu” is homo-phonic with “fu dao le” pronounced as “fu comes”. 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.
There are two legends of the origin of Upside-down “Fu” Character
It also said that Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang (founder of Ming dynasty) once used the character “fu(福)” as a hidden signal to prepare killing someone. The kind-hearted Empress Ma decided to eliminate the tragedy of killing, so she ordered everyone in the city to put a label with the character “fu 福” on the door of their house before the sun rises the next day.
Everyone followed Empress Ma´s order , but one family is illiterate and pasted the label with the character “fu 福” upside down. On the 2nd day, the emperor ordered his officer to go to the city and found that every family had pasted the label with the character “fu 福”, and with one family having the character “fu 福” upside down.
The emperor was very angry and ordered that family be executed. Empress Ma realized the incidence and told the emperor “that family knew you´re coming today, so purposely turn the label upside down. Isn´t that the same meaning as ´Luck arrives´?” After hearing this, the emperor immediately released the family and a tragedy was averted. From then on, people began to paste the label with the character “fu 福” with the purpose of hoping for auspiciousness, and another to honor Empress Ma.
Here is the other Legend…………………
During Spring Festival originate in Jiang Ziya of the Zhou Dynasty (11th Century-256 B.C.). When Jiang Ziya was made a god, his wife demanded to be made a goddess. “After I married you I was always in poverty in my life,” Lord Jiang said. “Seems you are destined to be poor. So let me appoint you as the Goddess of Poverty.”
Not knowing what being the Goddess of Poverty held in store for her, his wife was nevertheless happy about becoming a goddess. Cheerfully, she asked, “Now that I´m the Goddess of Poverty, where shall be my domain?” Jiang replied, “You are off limits wherever there is good fortune.”
When the residents got word of Jiang´s instruction, they wrote the character “fu”on paper and pasted it on the doors and windows of their houses to keep the Goddess of Poverty away. Thus pasting ´fu” during the Spring Festival became a Chinese tradition.