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 (rì)” and “一 (yī)”. “日 (Rì)” is the Chinese character for the sun and “一 (yī)” 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.
Additionally, there is an ancient Chinese legend about the New Year:
Sì qiān duō nián qián de shíhou,
About 4000 years ago,
Yǒu yíwèi huángdì Yáo, tā wèi rénmen zuòle hěnduō hǎoshì, hěn shòu àidài.
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,
Yúshì rènmìng Shùn wéi xià yí rèn huángdì.
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.”
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.
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.
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”.
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…
Yáo shì Zhōngguó lìshǐ shàng dìyī wèi huángdì.
Yao was the first emperor in Chinese history.
Zhōu Ēnlái zǒnglǐ shēnshòu Zhōngguó rénmín de àidài.
Premier Zhou Enlai was greatly adored by Chinese people.
Lǎoshī rènmìng Xiǎomíng wéi wǒmen de bānzhǎng.
The teacher appointed Xiao Ming as our monitor.
1. In ancient times, who did people commemorate on the first day of the lunar calendar?
A. 尧 (Yáo)
B. 舜 (Shùn)
C. 禹 (Yǔ)