Famous calligraphers are wielding their brushes to write spring couplets — chunlian — for the Lunar New Year. On Jan. 24, the Keelung City Council invited renowned calligraphers to write couplets in the council lobby. The following day they also wrote couplets at Keelung’s Culture Center. People said that with the economic downturn, being able to get free couplets written by well-known calligraphers is a great way to save some money.
The council invited eight renowned calligraphers, including Chiang Meng-lung and Chang Ming-lai, to wield their brushes as hundreds of people came to select their favorite calligrapher to write couplets for them. Lined up to procure their couplets, the lobby of the city council was chockablock with people.
On Jan. 24, many grandmothers and grandfathers took their grandkids to pick up spring couplets. By hanging up the couplets written by famous calligraphers after spring cleaning and before the new year, they hope to increase their chances of good fortune and prosperity in the new year. Every last one of the several thousand couplets that the council had prepared was taken.
Keelung City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai also wished everyone an early happy new year. He said the Spring Festival is the most important holiday in Taiwan, a time every household hangs up spring couplets as part of the festivities, and that the council held the event to give away couplets to the public so people can have a better New Year. Huang said that he hopes everyone is able to achieve everything they wish to achieve and have their every wish granted in the New Year.
Spring couplets, also called “spring stickers,” “happiness stickers,” and “spring calligraphy,” are used as a way to celebrate the Lunar New Year by writing auspicious words and phrases on paper and pasting them on walls and doors, as well as rice holders, refrigerators and safes. Starting in the Ming Dynasty, red paper began being used for writing spring couplets. In the past, societies following the lunar calendar were more particular about how exactly spring couplets should be written, but nowadays the rules have relaxed quite a bit.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)