Duilian…one of the most beloved Chinese New Year Symbols


This image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons and user Chrislb, and falls under their GMU Free Documentation License.

Ever come across a door flanked by two vertical red strips with Chinese characters?

If so, you’ve seen duilian — one of the most important and revered Chinese New Year symbols and traditions.

Duilian are generally two long, vertical strips placed parallel to one another on each side of a door, with poetic and traditional Chinese sayings written on them. Duilian might appear to be a simple holiday decoration. But they go far beyond that. They represent the wishes and hopes that Chinese people have for the new year.

Let’s take for example the duilian I have on the door of my office. The one on the left reads “Da Zhan Hong Tu” or “May you achieve your great plan”. On the right, it says “Sheng Yi Xing Long” or “May your business be prosperous”.

As far as Chinese New Year Symbols go, duilian are perhaps the most enduring. That’s because they are displayed the entire year, sometimes looking tired and ragged (as in the case of many of my neighbors in Shanghai). But people don’t mind, because they believe duilian can bring good fortune throughout the year.

If you’re marketing your products and services in China, duilian are worth more than a cursory investigation. Certainly there’s the association that duilian have with Chinese New Year and auspiciousness. Chinese people, in case you haven’t noticed, will go to great lengths to ensure good luck. After all, the duilian are written on red paper — I probably need not remind you just how auspicious the color red is in China.

But the really auspicious part is the content itself — what is written on duilian. Knowing traditional duilian sayings — which are cherished by most Chinese people — can be a great way to connect with the public. In fact, my father-in-law has an entire book devoted just to duilian sayings that he uses to write his own duilian every year. These phrases have immediate cultural recognition, and people are attracted to them simply because they suggest good luck. Duilian sayings could be like gold when used in a marketing campaign, a name of a product/service, or an event.

So go ahead, see how these Chinese New Year Symbols can work for you. Wan Shi Ru Yi (may everything be as you wish)!

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