The Chinese idiom 年年有余 ‘Nian Nian You Yu’ directly translated means ‘Year Year Have Surplus’. The English translation would be ‘May you have Abundance in life year after year’. This is a greeting commonly heard throughout Chinese New Year.
The character 余 ‘yu’ which means surplus or abundance sounds exactly like the character 鱼 ‘yu’ which means fish. Hence, the fish is often used as a symbol of abundance and is meant to give a good start to the new year.
Although commonly seen at Chinese New Year, the fish is a good symbol all year round. According to Feng Shui a pair of swimming fish symbolizes a harmonious marriage, fertility and wealth. Some New Year decorations even use the character for’ fish’ instead of ‘surplus’ as a good luck pun.
The Chinese are not the only ones to use fish as a symbol of luck or good omen. The fish is also a symbol used by Christians, who in turn got it from the ancient Greeks. The Celts saw the fish as a symbol of knowledge, wisdom, inspiration and prophecy. And we all know that eating fish makes you clever…
Do you know any other beliefs surrounding the fish?