Chinese Culture: Origin of “元旦 (Yuándàn) New Year’s Day”

Origin of “元旦 (Yuándàn) New Year’s Day” 
Key Learning Point (Preview):
元旦 (Yuándàn) n. New Year’s Day  

“元旦(Yuándàn) New Year’s Day” has a three thousand-year history in China. In ancient times, “元旦 (Yuándàn)” was the “农历 (nónglì) lunar calendar” new year—today’s “春节 (Chūnjié) Spring Festival.” Since the founding of the new China, with the aim of distinguishing the “农历 (nónglì) lunar calendar” and the “阳历 (yánglì) Gregorian calendar,” the lunar new year was renamed as “春节 (Chūnjié) Spring Festival” and Gregorian January 1 was named “元旦 (Yuándàn) New Year’s Day.” From then on, “元旦 (Yuándàn) New Year’s Day” became a new convivial festival across the whole country. Today, New Year’s Day is a “法定假日 (fǎdìng jiàrì) statutory holiday” in China. During this festival, people wish each other good luck in the New Year and send each other New Year’s cards as a gift.  

Key Learning Point:
元旦 (Yuándàn) n. New Year’s Day  

“元旦 (Yuándàn) New Year’s Day” refers to the beginning of the year. “元 (yuán)” means beginning or first. “旦 (dàn)” means morning or day. In fact, “旦 (dàn)” is a pictographic character. The part above “日 (rì) day” represents sun and the other part “一 (yī) one” stands for horizon. So this character conveys a meaning that the sun is rising gradually from the horizon. When “元 (yuán)” and “旦 (dàn)” are combined together, they mean the first day of the “新年 (xīnnián) New Year.” 

Yuándàn dào le, zhù nǐ zài xīnnián lǐ wànshìrúyì.
元旦        到  了,祝  你 在   新年    里 万事如意。

New Year’s Day is coming. I wish you good luck in the New Year.  

农历 (nónglì): n. lunar calendar   

春节 (Chūnjié): n. Spring Festival   

法定假日 (fǎdìng jiàrì): n. statutory holiday   

新年 (xīnnián): n. New Year   

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