Qing ming jie was instituted in 732 by Emperor Xuanzong as the only day on which citizens could pay formal respects to the dead at gravesites. Since then, it has been a day for families to get together and clean/decorate the graves of their ancestors.
Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the lunar new year, ending two weeks of New Year celebrations. While lanterns were traditionally part of the festival, for me it has always been about fireworks and tang yuan dumplings.
In China, everyone adds a year to their age on Ren Ri (“Human Day” or “Everyman’s Birthday” in English). At birth a child is considered to be 1 year old, and then every Ren Ri one year is added. So Ren Ri is like a communal birthday.
Think about it this way. The government bans your favourite holiday tradition. 13 years later you have children who have never experienced it, so you pour a lot of cash into preparing. Now, mutliply that scenario by about 5 million.
Writing has been my creative outlet this year. On the blog I’m writing about things that interest me, like Chinese language and culture, and am delighted to discover other people find them interesting as well! I’m also writing a book about TCKs.
In English we use “please” a lot. Use it and you’re polite. Don’t and you’re rude. So an English speaker learns the word 请 [qǐng], often translated “please”, and starts throwing it around in Chinese. Problem is, that’s not how Chinese use 请.
Many of the simple words one relies upon in one’s native language don’t exist in other languages – not in the form one is accustomed to. For example, in China it’s uncommon to say 谢谢 when the person is doing something they are paid for.
Singles’ Day, an anti-Valentines’ day, has become a MASSIVE shopping day, especially online. Last year Alibaba processed over $3 billion in sales on this one day. I hope Singles’ Day means the stigma of singleness is slowly lifting for Chinese.
When expats first arrive in Beijing, we learn a list of basic dishes to order in every Chinese restaurant. Some people don’t get far past this list of foreigner favourites, but there’s so much more out there! Here’s a few of my favourite dishes.
怎么 [zěnme] is a great word because it is so useful. I love that something simple on the surface contains great subtlety, and learning to communicate implied messages simply and fluently – like a Chinese – not spelling it out – like a westerner.
National Day holiday is October 1st-October 7th, regardless of which days of the week these are. This year, that’s Tuesday-Monday. Then the Sunday before and Saturday after become work days. Confused? Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one.
Many foreigners have had the experience of asking for 水 shuǐ and receiving a blank stare. The problem is that “water” doesn’t mean in Chinese what it means in English. Chinese don’t just ask for 水, they specify what kind of 水!