Couplet Stories

Emperor Meng Chang

Pictures of door gods were replaced each New Year as part of the general renewal. But during the Ten Kingdoms period (Shíguó 十国, 900s AD), Emperor Meng chang 孟昶 of the state of Later Shu (后蜀) thought that a particularly beautiful spring merited something more, so he ordered a couplet to be written and inscribed at either side of the palace door.

The problem was to find an appropriate text, one worthy of the beautiful spring.

When none of the courtiers could (or dare) come up with a couplet worthy of the spring, he penned one himself. And thus began the custom of writing door couplets for the New Year.

What the emperor wrote was simple but eloquent. It read:

新年纳余庆。佳节号长春。
Xinnian na yuqing. Jiajie hao changchun.

The new year brings cause for great celebration.
The joyous festival announces eternal spring.

Or someboday translated  this couplets as follow:

A new year is to see good signs, an auspicious festival ought to be followed by the long spring.