The Story Behind the Double Happiness Symbol

What are the origins of this good luck character?

You may have heard of the term Double Happiness but know little about what this symbol means, let alone how it came about. With this profile of the Chinese good luck character, get better acquainted with its history and discover if it can be applied to the circumstances in your life.

What Is Double Happiness?

Double Happiness is a large Chinese character featured on red paper. The characters that signify happiness are spelled xi or "hsi" in Mandarin and pronounced "shuang-xi." It is exclusively used in Mandarin to celebrate weddings.

The Story of the Symbol

The symbol dates back to the ancient Tang Dynasty. According to legend, there was a student on the way to the capital to take the national final examination in which the top learners would be selected as ministers of the court. Unfortunately, the student fell ill half way when he passed through a mountain village, but an herbalist and his daughter took the student to their house and expertly treated him.

The student recovered quickly due to their good care. When the time came for him to leave, he found it hard to say goodbye to the pretty herbalist's daughter, and so did she. They had fallen in love with each other. As a result, 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."

The student  replied, "Well, I can make it, though it is not easy. But you'll have to wait until I have finished the examination." The young girl nodded.

The young man ended up winning first place in the competition. The emperor recognized his prowess and 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 the perfect fit to the emperor's couplet, so he used her words to answer.

The emperor was delighted with this turn of events and appointed the young man as a minister of the court. But before the student began his new position, the emperor allowed him to pay a visit to his hometown.

He ran into the young woman who gave him the couplet and repeated the emperor's words to her. The half couplets complemented each other, and they soon wed. During the ceremony, they doubled the Chinese character "happy" on a red piece of paper and placed it on the wall to express their pleasure with the two events.

Wrapping Up

Ever since the couple's wedding, the double happiness symbol has become a Chinese social custom. It can be found all over during Chinese weddings. It is also used in wedding invitations. In both contexts, it simply means that the new couple will now be united. 

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Custer, Charles. "The Story Behind the Double Happiness Symbol." ThoughtCo, Aug. 22, 2016, thoughtco.com/story-behind-the-double-happiness-symbol-4077077. Custer, Charles. (2016, August 22). The Story Behind the Double Happiness Symbol. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/story-behind-the-double-happiness-symbol-4077077 Custer, Charles. "The Story Behind the Double Happiness Symbol." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/story-behind-the-double-happiness-symbol-4077077 (accessed November 20, 2017).