Think Qiu!


The Culture Corner is a place where we can share information about everyday culture and language practices in China, and any related resources available that can be used to expand your knowledge . . . and build your talents!

Thinking about Autumn?  Think "Qiu"!

-Tired of feeling hot? Ready for the cool harvest season? Is so, then think "Qiu" !

-Do you know which song is the most popular song in China about autumn ?

-Ever wonder why the Chinese people take their cooking and eating so seriously?

-Do you know the biggest family reunion time in China after the Spring Festival?

If the answer is "No," please read on:

The Chinese word for Autumn is qiū  Qiu is pronounced like the English word show but with a ch sound at the beginning.  It is pronounced with the 1st  Chinese linguistic tone which means that the pitch is high and level. The written character is formed by combining the two Chinese characters:  “” (hé) and (huǒ).

The character means grain and looks something like a tree, but with a heavy head of grain bending over its top.  China has traditionally been an agricultural country and so many of today's Chinese characters are based on words relating to farming life. When 禾 is placed beside the character (kou) meaning mouth / opening, the word harmony  (hé) is created.  The idea suggested in this character is that harmony is achieved when food and a hungry mouth come together.  Given China's rich agricultural resources and its large population of people, it's not surprising that Chinese take their cooking and eating so seriously, right?

火 means fire and looks like a bonfire with flames leaping from it.  When is placed beside the character meaning Autumn  is formed.  At the end of the harvest season, don't farmers around the world burn their old grain stalks and fallen leaves in preparation for the next spring's planting season?  Isn't that a realistic manifestation of the joining of grain and fire?

Very soon, the Chinese will begin celebrating one of the most important festivals of the year, the Mid-Autumn Festival.   Click here to view a video introducing the origin and significance of this festival.

There is so much to do and so much to eat during this festival (e.g., 月饼  yue bing, or Moon Cakes), and lots of great songs to sing. The most popular song of the Mid-Autumn Festival is 水调歌头 which has an accociated poem of the same name. You can download this poem by clicking here.  In China you can hear this song played everywhere throughout the holiday season.  Interested in learning another song about this Chinese festival?  The Mid-Autumn Festival Song is another popular song among people of all ages in China.  Enjoy!

If your interested in learning more about Mandarin language teaching, be sure to join us for the 2nd Annual Southern California Mandarin Teachers Conference taking place on October 13th. Click here to learn more!

Contributed by Ms. LI Fei, a 2012-2013 Hanban Volunteer Teacher from Shanghai.