The Unique Ways Chinese People Keep Warm in Winter

Daily life can be vastly different between the USA and China. It’s no secret that the food, history and culture of the two countries are not always similar. One other aspect of life that is unique in China is the things you can find when you’re out shopping. China is today the manufacturing capital of the world and home to countless products to buy and use. Each year, some new products are sold right next to traditional products. As an American student in China, I enjoy shopping for things both old and new.
As winter is now here, I’ve noticed a few things that buyers flock here in China. One is old and one is new. They both help keep us warm and content in the cold winter.

1. I will first introduce the “new” product to you:

暖手袋 (nuǎn shǒudài) = warm handbags

Gaining in popularity this year are “暖手袋 (nuǎn shǒudài)”, or warm handbags, also called electric warm bags. The handbags get their warmth with electricity that heats the water inside the bag. These convenient devices are perfect for people to use in the house, office or outside. When I get cold or stomachache, I use my “暖手袋 (nuǎn shǒudài)” to warm my hands and stomach to feel better. They’re cheap and can come in handy when you’re in a place without heaters. Since you’re using water and electricity, but sure to read over the safety precautions before use. You can buy your own “暖手袋 (nuǎn shǒudài)” on Chinese e-commerce sites such as Alibaba or Tencent. I am sending a few home to my family in the USA for Christmas!

Chinese General warm handbags

Nǐ yǐqián yòng guò nuǎnshǒudài ma?
你  以前      用  过      暖手袋        吗?
Have you used warm handbags before?

Nǐ zài nǎr mǎi de zhègè nuǎnshǒudài ā?
你 在  哪儿  买  的  这个   暖手袋      啊?
Where did you buy this warm handbag?

2. Another way we stay warm in China during the winter is a more traditional thing to buy on the streets of China, roasted vegetables:

烤玉米 (kǎoyùmǐ) = roasted corn

烤红薯 (kǎohóngshǔ) = roasted sweet potatoes

Throughout winter, you will see these two popular food items sold in the streets of China. These roasted vegetables are considered a nutritious and delicious winter street food. When I buy “烤玉米 (kǎoyùmǐ)” or “烤红薯 (kǎohóngshǔ)” from the seller, I can feel the warmth in my hands and in my belly!

Chinese General roasted sweet potatoes

The vendors of these snacks use a specially-designed oven to bake “玉米 (kǎoyùmǐ) corn” or “红薯 (hóngshǔ) sweet potatoes”. It’s a portable, traditional oven that attracts buyers with its warmth and smell.
烤 (kǎo): v. to bake; roast; toast;

玉米 (yùmǐ): n. corn;

红薯 (hóngshǔ): n. sweet potatoes;

烤玉米 (kǎoyùmǐ) = roasted corn;

烤红薯 (kǎohóngshǔ) = roasted sweet potatoes.


Kǎoyùmǐ shì wǒ zuì xǐhuān de shíwù.
烤玉米    是  我  最   喜欢  的   食物。
Roasted corn is my favorite food.

Wǒmen qù mǎi xiē kǎohóngshǔ chī ba!
我们      去  买   些     烤红薯       吃  吧!
Let’s go and buy some roasted sweet potatoes to eat.

So, naturally, the body is attracted to “warm” winter items to buy for comfort. Just as I like buying ice cream and iced tea in the summer, I love these comforting products and foods during the winter in China.

HSK 3 quiz

1. The following are all ways that Chinese people stay warm in winter except:
A. 冰淇淋 (bīngqílín)

B. 烤玉米 (kǎoyùmǐ)

C. 烤红薯 (kǎohóngshǔ)

D. 暖手袋 (nuǎnshǒudài)

―Written by Philip Reed―

Philip Reed is a Mandarin Chinese student in Beijing. He has been studying for one year in China and before that had an interest in Chinese at university in the U.S. He loves Chinese music and culture and can sing a few Mandarin songs at the KTV when he has free time!
General Chinese (Beginner Level)
General Chinese (Intermediate Level)

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