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A Chinese Culture Story About New Year’s Day That You Have to Know

Jan. 1, 2020

HSK 1 quiz

In ancient China, people called the first day of the calendar "元旦 (Yuándàn)." "元 (Yuán)" means "beginning" or "start" and "旦 (dàn)" means "day." The character "旦 (Dàn)" is composed of "日 ()" and "一 ()". "日 ()" is the Chinese character for the sun and "一 ()" represents the horizon. It means the sun gradually rising from the horizon. Therefore, "元旦 (Yuándàn)" refers to the beginning of a new day, which indicates the first day of the year.

元旦 (Yuándàn)

 

Additionally, there is an ancient Chinese legend about the New Year:

Western Son-in-Law: How to Get Through Chinese New Year (Part 1)

Sì qiān duō nián qián de shíhou,

四千多年前的时候,

About 4000 years ago,

 

Yǒu yíwèi huángdì Yáo, tā wèi rénmen zuòle hěnduō hǎoshì, hěn shòu àidài.

有一位皇帝尧,他为人们做了很多好事,很受爱戴。

Emperor Yao was greatly adored by his people for his achievements.

 

Tā qùshì de shíhou, xiǎng zhe zìjǐ de érzi méiyǒu zuò huángdì de cáinéng,

他去世的时候,想着自己的儿子没有做皇帝的才能,

Yúshì rènmìng Shùn wéi xià yí rèn huángdì.

于是任命舜为下一任皇帝。

When he passed away, Yao appointed Shun to be the next emperor instead of his incompetent son.

 

Yáo duì Shùn shuō: "yǐhòu yídìng yào xuǎn yígè yōuxiù de rén lái zuò huángdì."

尧对舜说:“以后一定要选一个优秀的人来做皇帝。”

Yao told Shun: "Make sure you choose a brilliant man to be the Emperor."

 

Yáo sǐ hòu, wèile j&i’grave;niàn tā, Shùn jìsì tiāndì.

尧死后,为了纪念他,舜祭祀天地。”

Later, Shun passed the crown to Yu, who had successfully managed a flood. Yu was also greatly liked by the people.

 

Hòulái Shùn rènmìng zhìshuǐ yǒu gōng de Yǔ zuòle huángdì. Yǔ yě wèi rénmen zuòle hěnduō hǎoshì, shēn shòu àidài.

后来舜任命治水有功的禹做了皇帝。禹也为人们做了很多好事,深受爱戴。

After Emperor Yao died, Shun offered sacrifices to heaven and earth in order to memorialize him. Later, Shun passed the crown to Yu, who had successfully managed a flood. Yu was also greatly liked by the people.

 

Hòulái rénmen bǎ Shùn jìsì de nà yìtiān, dāngzuò yì nián de kāishǐ, bǎ zhēngyuè chūyī chēngwéi "Yuándàn”.

后来人们把舜祭祀的那一天, 当作一年的开始,把正月初一称为“元旦”。

From then on, people regarded the day when Shun memorialized Yao as the beginning of the year and the first day of the lunar calendar as "元旦 (Yuándàn)".

 

Key knowledge point:

皇帝 (Huángdì): means emperor

 

爱戴 (Àidài): means like / adore

 

任命 (Rènmìng): means appoint / nominate

 

去世 (Qùshì): v. to pass away / die

 

纪念 (Jì’niàn): v. / n. to memorialize / in memory of

 

祭祀 (Jìsì): v. / n. to offer sacrifice to…

 

Examples:

Yáo shì Zhōngguó lìshǐ shàng dìyī wèi huángdì.

尧是中国历史上第一位皇帝。

Yao was the first emperor in Chinese history.

 

Zhōu Ēnlái zǒnglǐ shēnshòu Zhōngguó rénmín de àidài.

周恩来总理深受中国人民的爱戴。

Premier Zhou Enlai was greatly adored by Chinese people.

 

Lǎoshī rènmìng Xiǎomíng wéi wǒmen de bānzhǎng.

老师任命小明为我们的班长。

The teacher appointed Xiao Ming as our monitor.

 

 

HSK 3 quiz

1. In ancient times, who did people commemorate on the first day of the lunar calendar?

A. 尧 (Yáo)

 

B. 舜 (Shùn)

 

C. 禹 ()

 

See Answer Analysis

HSK 1 quiz

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Comments

That was very interesting article about New Years .

Gong Hai , Fat Choi ! ! !

In Mandarin Chinese, “祭祀” is a verb, meaning “to offer sacrifice to (something),” while, “祭祀品” is a noun, meaning “sacrifice.” It refers to animals that are sacrificed, such as sheep, cattle, etc.

What is the difference between “祭祀” and “祭祀品?” Can you help me with this problem?

Mandarin Chinese characters are so interesting and fun to learn! “旦” is like the rising sun above the horizon! I’ve learned a lot from this lesson!

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