New Year’s Painting 年画活动

年画1This past week New Century took us to culture center where we got the chance to observe classic Chinese artwork being made.  Not only did we get to watch some professionals paint, but we also got to hear the stories behind each of the paintings.  From these stories, I learned the real meaning behind several symbols that I often see in Chinese paintings.  For example, one can often spot a fish because the Chinese word for fish sounds like part of the Chinese word for prosperous.  My favorite painting depicted four children pulling a large carrot out of the ground together and read “齐心协力”, which essentially means teamwork.

On top of this, we also got the chance to learn about woodblock printing and even try it out for ourselves.  Using a woodblock that depicted an ancient Chinese market, we first coated it with a layer of black ink, and then pressed the image onto a large sheet of paper to produce our own piece of art.  The image was far more detailed than I had originally imagined, and we then got to watch as the teacher skillfully began to paint the outline we had just made, giving it life.  Overall, I enjoyed how the subtleties and details of these Chinese paintings often had profound meaning and made me appreciate even more the richness of Chinese culture. —–Austin




年华4上个星期一些老师和学生一起去杨柳青的一家工厂。这家工厂做的东西就是年画。年画是一种画,过年的时候中国人把这样的画挂在墙上。所以叫年画。年画有很多代表幸福或者跟幸福有关系的东西。譬如鱼,鹤,男孩儿和 荷花。在那家工厂我们看了他们怎么制作年画。他们用一个有一块木头的模子,然后用一把刷子把墨水擦在木头上,接着拿一张纸放在木头上,这样那张纸上就有那个图片他们用这样的方法可以很快地做出很多张。然后他们有一些人忙着给这些画上色

对我们外国人来说很有意思知道他们怎么做成这样有名的年画。 —–安可悦

IMG_0742Last week some teachers and students went to a factory. This factory makes the so-called New Year pictures. These are a kind of pictures that Chinese people will put on the wall during Spring Festival. In the pictures there are a lot of things that represent, or are related to, happiness. For example, fish, cranes, boys and lotus. At that factory we were able to see how these pictures are made. They use a wooden block in which a picture is carved. Then they use a brush to put ink on the carved picture. After that they put paper on the wooden block and the picture will last on the paper. In this way they can make a lot of pictures in a short time. Then there are several people who are busy colouring the pictures.

For us foreigners it was interesting to know how these very famous New Year pictures are made. —Christel

Idiom: 滥竽充数

làn yú chōng shù

“to be included in a group just to fill a vacancy; to pretend to be an expert”

lanyuchongshu2During the Warring States Period (475-221BC), the King of the State of Qi was very fond of listening to “yu” ensembles. He often got together 300 yu players to form a grand orchestra. The king treated his musicians very well. A man named Nanguo heard about that and he managed to become a member of the band, even though he could not play the instrument at all. Whenever the band played for the king, Nanguo just stood in the line and pretended to play. Nobody realized he wasn’t making any sound at all. As a result, he enjoyed his treatment just as the other musician did.

When the king died, his son, the new ruler, also loved the yu’s music. However, he preferred solos. He ordered all the musicians to play the yu one by one. Therefore, Nanguo had to run out of the palace.

The idiom “làn yú chōng shù” is used to mock someone who passes for a specialist in something. You can also hear people saying it about themselves to show their modesty.



滥竽充数这个成语用来嘲笑那些没有真正才干,混在行家里的人。 人们有时也用滥竽充数来表示自谦。

QingMing Festival 清明节

qm1QingMing Festival is a time set aside to remember your ancestors and your dearly departed loved ones. It is also one of the 24 seasonal division points in China, falling on April 4-6th each year. Generally, after the festival, the temperature will rise up and rainfall will increase.

QingMing Festival is a time of many different activities, the major custom being tomb sweeping. On this day, people visit their family’s graves to remove any underbrush that has grown and decorate the tombstones with fresh flowers. After that, they will set out offerings of food and paper money. A spring outing along with flying kites is also a main activity. Some other lost customs include wearing willow branches on the head and riding on swings.

The festival is a combination of sadness and happiness, a truly bittersweet holiday.




Qīngmíng jié shì yīgè jìniàn zǔxiān de jiérì. Yěshì zhōngguó 24 jiéqì zhī yī, tōngcháng zài měinián de 4 yuè 4 rì—6 rì, zài cǐ zhīhòu qìwēn jiāng huì shàngshēng, bìngqiě jiàngyǔ jiāng huì zēngduō.

Qīngmíng jié yǒu hěnduō bùtóng de huódòng, zhǔyào de fēngsú shì sǎomù. Zhè yītiān rénmen huì qù mùdì sǎomù, zhīhòu fèng shàng xiānhuā, shíwù, ránhòu yě huì shāo zhǐqián. Chūnyóu tàqīng, fàng fēngzhēng yěshì qīngmíng jié de zhǔyào huódòng. Yǐqián rénmen yě huì chā liǔ, dàng qiūqiān děng, dàn xiànzài zhè zhǒng huódòng yuè lái yuè shǎole.

Suǒyǐ, qīngmíng jié shì yīgè jì yōushāng qiě kuàilè de rìzi.

LongTaiTou Festival 二月二龙抬头

longtaitou1Longtaitou Festival is a traditional Chinese festival on the second day of the second month of the lunar calendar. In 2015 on the public calendar, this day falls on March 22. The names literal translation is “The Dragon Raises Its Head Day”... In the traditional culture of China, the dragon was believed to be the king of all creatures and the ancestor of human beings. The dragon itself is also regarded as an important factor in ancient agriculture – it’s the creature in charge of rain.

According to the ancient folk legend, the second day of the second lunar month is the exact day for the dragon king, who is in charge of the clouds and the rains, to raise his head. After that day, there will be more and more rain, so that day is also called Spring Dragon Day (春龙节 chūn lóng jié) . Most Chinese northern farmers believe that with the help of that day, all stores, big and small, will be full of grain. Every year when this day comes, the northern people will perform dragon dance, eat spring pancakes and noodles, or have a haircut to enjoy such happiness.

So start to make spring pancakes and make a hair appointment today. Make sure that you are ready for Long Tai Tou!

longtaitouhair每年的农历二月初二是中国的传统节日—-龙抬头。龙抬头按字面直译就是“Dragon Raises Head Day”. 在中国传统文化中,龙被信奉为万物之王,人类的始祖。另外龙也被认作是古代农业文化的重要元素之一——掌管降雨之神。



Online Buzzword: Duang是什么意思?

The newest online Chinese buzzword in 2015 is “duang”… have you seen or heard it before? If you use any sort of Chinese online social media, you’re bound to have already seen it countless times.

Most simply put, it’s an onomatopoeia, a written word that phonetically imitates a syllable’s sound. It all seems to have started with Hong Kong kung fu star Jackie Chan, who in 2004 was featured in a shampoo commercial where he famously defended his sleek, black hair using the rhythmic-sounding word “duang” in a long first tone.

The word resurfaced again recently after Mr. Chan posted it on his Weibo page. Thousands of users then began to flood him with comments, using the word in many different contexts. There’s no perfect translation, but you could use it as an adjective to give emphasis to the word that follows it. A kitten might be “duang cute”, for example. Or you might be “very duang confused” by this blog.

For readers of Chinese characters, the Jackie Chan theme is also apparent from the quirky way in which the word is written: a combination of Chan’s names written in Chinese. The top radical being “成” (Chéng, Mr. Chan’s Chinese family name) and the lower radical being “龙” (Lóng, his Chinese name, meaning dragon).








Lantern Festival 元宵节

The 15th day of the 1st lunar month is the Chinese Lantern Festival because the first lunar month is called yuan-month and in the ancient times people called night Xiao. The 15th day is the first night to see a full moon. So that day is also called Yuan Xiao Festival (元宵节)in China.

According to the Chinese tradition, at the very beginning of a new year, when there is a bright full moon hanging in the sky , there should be thousands of colorful lanterns hung out for people to appreciate. Meanwhile, people will try to solve the puzzles on the lanterns and eat yuanxiao (glutinous rice ball, or called tangyuan) and get all their families united in the joyful atmosphere.