First of all, let’s address the elephant in the room, I know you’re all thinking it: “But it’s not Chinese Valentine’s Day!” You’re right, it’s not, but here at TCB we’ll never pass up an opportunity to spread a bit of love – especially when we can learn a little Mandarin in the process! Anyway, more so than perhaps any other Western holiday, Valentine’s Day has been gaining popularity in China during recent years, so there’s even more reason to ask Cupid to fire up his arrows! Here’s our guide to Valentine’s Day in China:
Let’s kick off with one of our favourites, a poem by 汉乐府 Yuefu Han named 上邪 shàng xié, meaning ‘by heaven’, which is one of the earliest and most famous Chinese poems about love (tissues at the ready!):
wǒ yù yǔ jūn xiāng zhī,
I shall love you,
cháng mìng wú jué shuāi!
To the end of time!
Shān wú léng,
Till mountains crumble,
jiāng shuǐ wèi jié,
Streams run dry,
dōng léi zhèn zhèn,
Thunder rumbles in winter,
xià yǔ xuě,
Snow falls in summer,
tiān dì hé,
And the earth mingles with the sky,
nǎi gǎn yǔ jūn jué…
Not till then will I cease to love you…
Now for some ‘lovely’ Valentine’s phrases sure to get some heart a-pumpin’ – note that all of the following can be used both as idioms and as greetings:
举案齐眉 — jǔ àn qí méi — Literal: To lift the tray to eyebrow level. In context: A husband and wife love and respect each other for life.
白头偕老 — bái tóu xié lǎo — Literal: To live together until the white hairs of old age. In context: Until death do us part.
天长地久 — tiān cháng dì jiǔ — Literal: Enduring until the world lasts. In context: Eternal.
花好月圆 — huā hǎo yuè yuan — Literal: Lovely flowers, round moon. In context: Marital bliss.
有情人终成眷属 — yǒu qíng rén zhōng chéng juàn shǔ — Love will find a way.
And another of our favourite idioms…
比翼双飞 — bǐ yì shuāng fēi — To fly as a couple, wing to wing
Preparing to spend Valentine’s Day in China? You might want to consider what gift would be appropriate – a bouquet of fresh flowers might have your better half leaving the restaurant before you’ve even so much as picked up your chopsticks!
Alone this Valentine’s Day? Looks like you’ll have to celebrate Chinese Valentine’s Day on the 28th August instead or, failing that, at least there’s singles day to look forward on the 11th November! We promise, we’ll have a blog that’s equally cool ready for November that will make all of those tear-filled nights seem worth it…