Spring Festival 春节（1）
C: Yajie, I know the Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival. I’d like to know why and how to say it in Chinese.
Y: it’s called Spring Festival because it starts at the beginning of Spring. Cam, do you remember we learned the four seasons in our previous show. Do you remember the Chinese for spring?
C: Ah… it’s 春天chun1 tian1.
Y: Yes, 春天 chun1 tian1 means spring, or just 春 chun1 for short. And festival is 节 jie2 in Chinese.
Y: then spring festival is 春节 chun1 jie2.
C: chun1 jie2.
Y: you may also hear people say “过年 guo4 nian2”.
C: guo4 nian2, what is that?
Y: 过 guo4 in Chinese has both the meaning of “pass-over” and “celebrate”
Y: and the word “年 nian2” means “year” in Chinese.
Y: In the Chinese legend,年nian2 was a terrible monster, and nian2 was afraid of red, flames and firecrackers. So when it’s spring festival, many people put red couplets on their front doors, and set off firecrackers to make loud noises. We’ll mention more about it later.
Y: 过年 guo4 nian2, to have the spring festival
C: guo3 nian2.
C: Yajie, I’m wondering how long will 春节 chun1 jie2 last? Then I can work my schedule to suit the festival.
Y: Chun1 jie2 lasts 15 days from lunar new year’s eve until the lantern festival.
C: what is the Chinese for lunar new year’s eve,
Y: it’s called 除夕 chu2 xi1, 除chu2 literally means remove or change,
Y: 夕 xi1 means night,
Y: 除夕 chu2 xi1, implies that the old year ends at this night, and the new one begins tomorrow.
C: chu2 xi1. the lunar new year’s eve. And when is it?
Y: it varies from year to year. This year 除夕 chu2 xi1 is on January 28th of the Gregorian Calendar.
C: then when will it end?
Y: it ends on the lantern festival, which is 元宵节 yuan2 xiao1 jie2.
C: yuan2 xiao1 jie2.
Y: It is customary to eat special sweet dumplings called yuanxiao, which symbolizes family reunions and people will watch lanterns during this festival. So it can also be called “灯节 deng1 jie2” since the word “灯 deng1”means lantern.
C: 灯节 deng1 jie2. Lantern Festival.
C: Yajie, I heard that the Chinese animal signs are used for dating the years.
Y: Exactly. And it’s based on a 12-year cycle.
C: Then what’s the animal for this year?
Y: it’s the year of the dog.
C: ah, I love dogs.
Y: Same here. So we can say 今年是狗年 jin1 nian2 shi4 gou3 nian4. This year is the year of the dog.
C: jin1 nian2 shi4 gou3 nian4.
Y: 今年 jin1 nian2, this year,
C: jin1 nian2,
Y: 是 shi4, is
Y: 狗 gou3 means dog,
Y: 年 nian2 means year,
Y: 今年是狗年 jin1 nian2 shi4 gou3 nian4.
C: jin1 nian2 shi4 gou3 nian4. this year is the year of the dog
Yajie: We’ve run out of time, but there is still much more to learn about the Spring Festival tradition!
Cam: I will wait until tomorrow. Until then, here’s our question of the day.
YJ: How do you say, “lunar new year’s eve” in Chinese? Mingtian jian!