Spring Festival is coming up! Soon, it'll be the year of the Cock!


This character is very straightforward -- it's hung as a decoration in homes and businesses, on doors and walls and everywhere else, to invoke blessings and good fortunes in the year to come. Other decorations include lanterns, tassles, and scrolls or posters with fish (abundance) and/or characters for wealth, happiness, health, etc. Typically, these will all be bright red and gold in color.


Note that this character is depicted upside down in this painting. The decoration is often hung upside down during this time, as kind of a pun. In Chinese, many things are homophones, because Chinese. In this particular case,  the words for "upside-down" (倒, Pinyin: dào) and "to arrive" (到, Pinyin: dào) are homophonous. Hanging the blessing upside down invites people to comment, "Oh, your blessing is upside down!" which sounds the same as "Oh, good fortune has arrived!"


There are a few variations on the origin story of how this came to be. The common points are that an illiterate servant hung this sign upside down in an imperial chamber, and the royal member was deeply offended until a quick-thinking other servant placated them with this made up on the spot explanation with homophones.