A Love Story - The Origin Of The Double Happiness Symbol
"囍" (pronounced shuāngxǐ, 双喜) in Chinese is comprised of 喜喜 – two copies of the Chinese character 喜 (pronounced xǐ), The double happiness symbol, which means joy and happiness. It is commonly used as a Chinese wedding symbol to represent double the joy and happiness for the newlyweds as they begin their marriage.
The double happiness symbol dates back to the Tang Dynasty. According to legend, there was a student on his way to the capital to take an examination, after which the top scorers would be selected as ministers of the court. Unfortunately, the student fell ill along the way as he passed through a mountain village. But thankfully, an herbalist and his daughter took him to their house and expertly treated him.
The student recovered quickly because of their good care. However, when the time came for him to leave, he found it hard to say goodbye to the herbalist's daughter, and so did she—they had fallen in love with each other. So, the girl wrote down half of a couplet for the student:
"Green trees against the sky in the spring rain while the sky set off the spring trees in the obscuration."
With that, the student left to take his examination, promising to return to her.
The young man ended up scoring highest in the examination. The emperor recognized his intellect and, as part of the interview that followed, asked him to finish part of a couplet. The emperor wrote:
"Red flowers dot the land in the breeze's chase while the land colored up in red after the kiss."
The young man realized immediately that the girl's half-couplet was a perfect fit for the emperor's, so he used her words to answer. The emperor was delighted with this response and appointed the young man as a minister of the court. Before beginning the position, however, the student was allowed to pay a visit to his hometown.
He ran back to the herbalist's daughter and told her the story of the two half-couplets coming together perfectly as one. They soon wed, and during the ceremony, they doubled the Chinese character for "happy" on a red piece of paper and placed it on the wall.
Ever since the couple's wedding, the Double Happiness symbol has become a Chinese social custom, prominent especially in aspects of Chinese weddings, from wedding invitations to decorations. It is also common for people to gift the symbol to a couple to bestow upon them a blessing of good luck for their marriage. In all of these contexts, the Double Happiness symbol represents joy and unity.
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