Faster Than Lightning – China’s Lightning Marriage (Elementary)

For many in China, Spring is their favorite season, and that is especially true for lighthearted lovers. Flowers bloom, the sun shines, and balmy breezes ripple across the glassy surfaces of local lakes–it’s the perfect atmosphere for a dream wedding. Spring is a time of love and marriage, when one will find wedding photos strewn about the online media.

Some couples wait years to wed, while others wait just a few days. Lucy falls into the latter category. The news of her wedding shocked her friends due to the fact that a few short weeks ago she didn’t even have a boyfriend!

           Lucy shuō tā míngtiān jiéhūn.
Jane:Lucy  说    她    明天     结婚。

           Lucy told me she’s getting married tomorrow.

          Shǎnhūn a?
Kate:闪婚      啊?

          A lightning marriage, huh?

           Shì a,  tā hé tā nánpéngyou cái rènshi shí tiān.
Jane:是 啊,她 和 她     男朋友       才  认识    十  天。

           Yeah. She and her boyfriend met just ten days ago.

Although getting married after knowing each other for just ten days and having a 闪婚 (shǎnhūn) may sound crazy, that is what handfuls of China’s twenty-somethings are doing. The term 闪婚 (shǎnhūn) originated in the early 21st century, and it describes a marriage in which the couple has married after knowing each other for less than 3 months.

闪 (shǎn) in Chinese means flashing, and here it is the short form of 闪电 (shǎndiàn), meaning “lightning.” 婚 (hūn) means “marriage.” The word lightning implies that something–in this case, the marriage–has happened quickly. 闪婚 (shǎnhūn), therefore, means a quick marriage.

While 闪婚 (shǎnhūn, lightning marriages) are interesting phenomena, the sad truth is that a quick courtship can often lead to divorce. In fact, divorce among 闪婚 (shǎnhūn) couples is much more common than it is among couples who had a long courtship. “Divorce” in Chinese is 离婚 (líhūn), or simply 离 (lí). So a lightning or quick divorce is a 闪离 (shǎnlí).

Besides 闪婚 (shǎnhūn) and 闪离 (shǎnlí), there are some other popular words that use 闪 (shǎn).

For example, to help prevent an accident, you can say 闪开 (shǎnkāi), “get out of the way quickly.” And there is 闪人 (shǎnrén), which is an online buzzword that means “to leave” or “to go away.” For example, you can say, “一会儿要开会,我先闪人了。(Yíhuìr yào kāihuì, wǒ xiān shǎnrén le.),” which means, “I have to leave now because there is a meeting waiting on me.”

What do you think about 闪婚 (shǎnhūn)? If you had the chance, would you dare to try it?


1. What’s the meaning of “闪婚 (shǎnhūn)?” _______

A. brightly divorced

B. brightly married

C. lightning marriage

2. Which of the following is not correct? _______

A. 闪人 (shǎnrén) means “to leave.”

B. 闪人 (shǎnrén) means “to lose one’s way.”

C. 闪人 (shǎnrén) is an online buzzword.

Chinese Popular Words (Fun Stuff)
General Chinese (Beginner Level)
General Chinese (Intermediate Level)

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