China is well known for having what seems like innumerable holidays and festivals because of its rich and long history. We have another one for you to learn about, but this one is much more recent. On April 20, 2010, UNESCO (a United Nations agency) established Chinese Language Day to commemorate Chinese as one of the UN’s six official languages. But it had a long way to go before gaining this special day.
The history of Mandarin Chinese, in summary
“仓颉 (Cāngjié) Cangjie”, who is celebrated as one of the inventors of Chinese characters more than 5,000 years ago, is also honored on this day. To celebrate Cāngjié, the date for the Chinese day was chosen from Guyu (“Rain of Millet”), which is the 6th of 24 solar periods in ancient East Asian calendars. Cāngjié is a well-known person in ancient China, claiming to be the Yellow Emperor’s official historian and the originator of Chinese characters. According to legend, he had four eyes and four pupils, and as he created the characters, the gods and spirits wept and the heavens showered millet. Since then, Chinese people have observed Guyu Day in honor of Cāngjié. It usually starts around April 20 on the Gregorian calendar.
In 1911, China adopted Mandarin as its national language after Dr. Sun Yat Sen overthrew the Qing Dynasty.
The United Nations designated Chinese as an official language in 1946. Even so, the United Nations did not employ Chinese very often at initially. After the People’s Republic of China acquired legal rights at the United Nations 25 years later, the situation improved.
The United Nations General Assembly embraced Chinese in 1973.
In 1974, the United Nations Security Council followed suit, declaring Chinese to be its “working language.” Following that, an increasing number of UN offices and personnel began to work with Chinese.
1. Learn a Chinese phrase
Teaching Chinese is our specialty so let’s learn a few phrases to celebrate the language. Remember it’s tonal so the words must go up and down to sound just right. Give it a try!
2. Cook a Chinese meal
We all have to eat, so why not make dinner into a social event. Buy dumpling wrappers at any Asian market and fill it with ingredients that you like. Get creative! Some people have gone as far as to make hamburger dumplings but if you want vegetarian ingredients, stick with cabbage, mushrooms, and carrots with soy sauce.
● Yī qǐ zuò fàn ba!
一 起 做 饭 吧！
Let’s cook together!
3. Watch a Chinese film
China produces some of the world’s most visually gorgeous films. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is a good place to start if you are unfamilliar. You might be blown away after you realize how expansive the Chinese movie genre is. With genres including dramas, romance, horror, indy, fantasy, or comedy, you’ll easily find a title to watch.
● Nǐ xiǎng kàn diàn yǐng ma?
你 想 看 电 影 吗？
Do you want to watch a movie?
Did you know that one-fifth of the world’s population, or around 1.3 billion people, speaks Chinese in some form, making it the world’s most widely spoken language? It will open doors of communication and invite you, as a learner into the culture and history that spans so far into the past. What are you waiting for? Sign up for your free trial lesson to join the 1.3 billion people that regularly speak Chinese.