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“xuěhuā piāopiāo, běifēng xiāoxiāo” – How a 1980‘s Television Theme Song Caught Fire

Jul. 2, 2020

Recently, one line Fei Yuqing’s song “一剪梅 (yī jiǎn méi) One Plum Blossom” has caught fire around the world, popping up in videos of all kinds on popular social media apps like TikTok.

The line of the moment is, “雪花飘飘,北风萧萧 (xuěhuā piāopiāo, běifēng xiāoxiāo)”, or, “The snow falls, the wind blows.” However, despite Fei Yuqing’s moving vibrato in his delivery of the song, and the song’s appearance in every manner of video, blog post, and other media, many people actually don’t know how to use it. Today, let’s take a look at what it means, together!

What does it mean?

“雪花飘飘,北风萧萧 (xuěhuā piāopiāo, běifēng xiāoxiāo)” means, “The snow falls and the wind blows.” Another way to say this in Chinese would be, “下起了大雪,吹起了大风 (xiàqǐ le dàxuě, chuīqǐ le dàfēng).” Why are we talking about this sentence so much?

The expression is actually a metaphor, meaning that life has reached a low point, and is only getting worse – kind of like everything is conspiring to pour salt on the wound that life has left. It conveys a sense of helplessness, a feeling of loneliness and despair. Besides the current worldwide despair due to COVID-19, this also mirrors the rise of “丧文化( sàng wénhuà) sàng culture” in China.

“丧 (sàng) ” literally means “mourning,” and this “mourning culture” refers to a sense of apathy, lack of motivation, and general nihilism expressed in language, memes, arts, and emotions of many Chinese young people. The image below is a cliché depiction of sàng wénhuà: all the man wants is to sit on a couch, doing nothing, looking at nothing, and thinking about nothing.

Okay, but back to “雪花飘飘,北风萧萧 (xuěhuā piāopiāo, běifēng xiāoxiāo)” – let’s see how it comes up in everyday life.

1.Expressing one’s sad state of mind

For example: “I have to work overtime by myself today. I’m the only one still at the office! xuěhuā piāopiāo, běifēng xiāoxiāo.” (“Poor me…”)

2.Expressing a person’s powerlessness

For example: “He found out today that he has Stage IV cancer. xuěhuā piāopiāo, běifēng xiāoxiāo.” (“Life really is cruel…”)

Why is it popular?

Some people say the line rose to popularity due to a video of a man with an egg-shaped head standing in the heavy snow singing, “xue~ hua~ piao~ piao~, bei~ feng~ xiao~ xiao~” while spinning and jumping.

Of course, we had to dig deeper into this video’s background, and it turns out that the current surge in popularity is not only a coincidence, but even a consequence of the worldwide pandemic: the song’s title, “yī jiǎn méi”, is a homonym for, “疫减没 (yì jiǎn méi)” – “epidemic reduction.” Furthermore, the singer Fei Yuqing’s name is also a homonym for, “肺愈清 (fèi yù qīng)” – “the lungs are clearer.”

No wonder this song is so suitable as a background for the world we’re living in right now!

One more fun fact

Riding the wave of pop culture, netizens have been challenging their parents to read, “xuěhuā piāopiāo, běifēng xiāoxiāo” on camera. Turns out, the line is somewhat of a tongue twister even for native Chinese speakers!

That said, the song’s melody is one I remember my parents singing – its classic rhythm, the profound melody, and the emotional words tug my heart strings and take me back to a pure, simpler time in the past.

As I finish up this article, I too find myself all alone in the office, working overtime. Maybe I’ll sing myself a little song as I do so… xuěhuā piāopiāo, běifēng xiāoxiāo…

HSK 3 quiz

Which of the following scenarios can be described by “xuěhuā piāopiāo, běifēng xiāoxiāo”?

A.I scored 100 points on the exam.
B.I won first place in the dance competition.
C.My flight to Shanghai was delayed.

See Answer Analysis

Ps:These images were found online, please contact us with any usage rights concerns.

HSK 1 quiz

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