No entry poetry: A creative way to turn visitors away with Spring Festival couplets

KUANTAN: Red scrolls adorning the doorways of Chinese households are a regular sight each time the Spring Festival comes around, but instead of the usual welcome messages this year, some people are getting creative by using rhymes to "turn away" visitors.

"Spending the New Year by myself. Ang pows and gifts I decline, Please don't come, friends and relatives of mine," read a Chinese couplet decorating the entrance to the home of a businessman, who wished to be known only as Chong.

Spring Festival couplets, known in Chinese as chūnlián, is a form of poetry usually used to express happiness, hopeful thoughts and wishes for peace and prosperity for the coming year.

However, the new trend of message appear to delicately decline visitors for their mutual health and well-being.

Chong said due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it would be better to put aside the traditional practice of visiting during Chinese New Year for now.

"My friends and business associates would visit every Chinese New Year. Due to the severity of the pandemic and my fear of the coronavirus, I think it is better that we don't visit each other this year.

"Sending me gifts is also not necessary. I only wish to emphasise health at this moment," Chong said.

He said he enlisted the help of a friend who was skilled in Chinese calligraphy to write the couplet that bedecked his doorway.

Another couplet seen at a different house had a more melancholic statement. It read: "I want to live. If the pandemic won't go, spring won't come. Relatives and friends, please don't come."

With travel during the Chinese New Year still uncertain, the message could also be seen as encouraging people to stick to the new norms and comply with standard operating procedures.

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