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Celebrate China's Valentine's Day: 5 Romantic Chinese Language Lessons You'll Adore

You know what day is coming up when love is in the air and pink candy is in the supermarket aisles.

Valentine’s Day is a time for counting all that we love, including our love of hacking every opportunity to learn Chinese!

And—surprise!—it’s coming around again a second time this year for all you Chinese learners.

In celebration of this heartfelt time of year, we’re going to explore Chinese Valentine’s Day, and some key vocabulary and phrases we can master around this holiday.

What’s Chinese Valentine’s Day?

Yes, the Chinese have their own Valentine’s Day. It’s not related to Saint Valentine and doesn’t fall in February.

Chinese Valentine’s Day, 中国情人节 (zhōng gúo qíng rén jié), is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, which usually falls in August. For that reason, Chinese Valentine’s Day is also called 七夕節 (qī xī jié) or Double Seven Festival.

In 2016, this Chinese holiday is going to fall on August 9th.

As with many romantic traditions, the origin of Chinese Valentine’s Day comes from ancient Chinese myth.

The Story Behind Chinese Valentine’s Day

Chinese Valentine’s Day began with a story of forbidden love.

(zhī nü), whose name means Weaver Girl, was the daughter of a goddess. Zhinü fell in love with a mortal, (niú láng), whose name means Cowherd. 

They married secretly, and lived happily together, until their relationship was discovered by Zhinü’s mother. Furious, Zhinü’s mother sought to split the couple apart.

Zhinü’s mother used her superpowers to remove Zhinü from her husband Niulang—she stretched a long river in the heavens between them, also known as the Milky Way. Today, when you look up to the night sky, you can see Zhinü represented by the star Vega and Niulang represented by the star Altair.

Once a year, all the magpies in the world take pity on this couple and form a bridge called 鹊桥 (què qiáo) “the bridge of magpies” to reunite them on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.

The one day in the year on which Zhinü and Niulang can meet is Chinese Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day in China Today

Even though the story of Zhinü and Niulang is ancient folklore, Valentine’s Day is still a big deal in China today.

During the most recent Chinese Valentine’s day, for example, 30 couples competed in a kissing contest in Taiyuan, in northern China.

In China, matchmaking services are a booming business. One example is professional “love hunters” who specialize in finding spouses for rich clients.

In some cases, parents take matchmaking into their own hands. In public “marriage markets,” usually hosted at a park, parents seek suitable mates for their children.

Another interesting phenomenon is mass weddings, in which multiple couples tie the knot together in a massive joint party. This winter, 15 couples were married at once in a joint wedding in Harbin, near Siberia.

Luckily, learning Chinese requires much less fanfare than a mass wedding in the snow. Here are five mini-lessons to bring lovestruck joys into our Chinese language learning.

5 Mandarin Chinese Language Lessons for China’s Valentine’s Day

Lesson #1: Let’s Talk About Love

Did you know the word for dating in Chinese, 谈恋爱 (tán liàn ài), literally means “talk about love”? Let’s look at basic Chinese questions and phrases to discuss love.

Want to get a little nosey about who your friend likes? Or maybe you’re looking to test the waters for yourself. Here are easy phrases to start a conversation about love.

A. Who do you like?

诶, 你喜欢谁?(āi nǐ xǐ huān shéi)
So, who do you like?

你喜欢什么样的女生/男生? (nǐ xǐ huān shén me yàng de nǚ shēng/nán shēng)
What kind of guy/girl do you like?

我喜欢单身。 (wǒ xǐ huān dān shēn)
I like being single.

B. True confessions

Phrases for confessing love and fuzzy feelings.

其实我喜欢你很久了。 (qí shí wǒ xǐ huān nǐ hěn jǐu le)
Actually, I’ve liked you for a long time.

我真的很爱你。 (wǒ zhēn de hěn ài nǐ)
I really love you.

我也是。 (wǒ yě shì)
Me too.

我们交往吧。 (wǒ mén jiāo wǎng ba)
Let’s go out (on a date).

C. Taking the plunge

Phrases for marriage and proposals.

你是我的一切。 你愿意嫁给我吗?(nǐ shì wǒ de yī qiè . nǐ yuàn yì jià gěi wǒ ma?)
You are my everything. Will you marry me?

我们结婚吧。 (wǒ mén jié hūn ba)
Let’s get married.

Lesson #2: Going Out on a Date

Phrases to talk about going on a date, or 去约会 (qù yuē hùi).

A. Date locations

Using this pattern, you can substitute a date location/activity in the blank—see the list below for ideas—to form a sentence asking someone on a date.

我们去 ________吧。 (wǒ mén qù ________ ba。)
Let’s go________.

餐厅 (cān tīng) to a restaurant

看电影 (kàn diàn yǐng) see a movie

看戏 (kàn xì) see a play

听音乐会 (tīng yīn yuè hùi) to a concert

酒吧 (jǐu ba) to a bar

逛街 (guàng jiē) shopping

观光 (guān guāng) sightseeing

看烟花 (kàn yān huā) see fireworks

看日落 (kàn rì lùo) see the sunset

海滩 (hǎi tān) to the beach

公园 (gōng yuán) to the park

散步 (sàn bù) take a walk

坐船 (zùo chuán) sailing

旅游 (lǚ yóu) travelling

爬山 (pá shān) hiking

吃冰淇淋 (chī bīng qí lín) for ice cream

喝咖啡 (hē kā fēi) for coffee

喝酒 (hē jǐu) for drinks

B. Saying goodbye

At the end of a date, here’s how you can say goodbye graciously.

我今天玩的很开心, 谢谢。 (wǒ jīn tiān wán de hěn kāi xīn, xiè xiè)
Thanks, I had a great time tonight.

有空给我打电话吧。(yǒu kōng gěi wǒ dǎ diàn huà ba)
Call me when you have time.

Lesson #3: Giving Valentine’s Day Gifts

Will you splurge on your date this Valentine’s Day? Here are phrases for giving and receiving gifts.

A. Giving gifts

你喜欢什么? (nǐ xǐ huān shén me?)
What do you like?

这是送你的, 看看你喜不喜欢。 (zhè shì sòng nǐ de, kàn kàn nǐ xǐ bù xǐ huān)
Here, this is for you. See if you like it.

B. Saying thanks

Use this pattern to say thanks for a variety of gifts. See the list below for gift items to substitute in the blank.

哇! 是 _________ , 谢谢。(wa! shì _________, xiè xiè)
Oh, it’s (a) ______. Thanks.

巧克力 (qiǎo kè lì) chocolate

(huā) flowers

音乐 (yīn yuè zhuān jí) music album

(shū) book

(shǒu shìjewelry

名牌包包 (míng pái bāo bāo) designer hand bag

 玩具熊 (wán jù xióng) stuffed toy

卡片 (kǎ piàn) card

围巾 (wéi jīn) scarf

香水 (xiāng shǔi) perfume

领带 (lǐng dài) tie

袖扣 (xìu kòu) cufflinks

(diàn zǐ qì jiàn) electronic gadgets

Lesson #4: Complimenting Others

When in love, you’ll want to say nice things to your sweetheart. Here are simple phrases you can learn to do just that.

A. Expressing beauty

Here are three beautiful Chinese words for beauty:

美丽 (měi lì) beautiful

漂亮 (piào liàng) pretty

美丽动人 (měi lì dòng rén) beautiful in a way that touches the heart; is moving

Using this pattern, you can substitute something you want to compliment in the blank.

你的_______很美丽/漂亮/美丽动人。 (nǐ de_______ hěn měi lì/hěn piào liàng/měi lì dòng rén)
Your________ is beautiful/pretty/is beautifully moving.

Examples:

你的笑容很美丽。 (nǐ de xiào róng hěn měi lì)
Your smile is beautiful.

你的眼睛很漂亮。 (nǐ de yǎn jīng hěn piào liàng)
Your eyes are very pretty.

你的声音美丽动人。 (nǐ de shēng yīn měi lì dòng rén)
Your voice moves me.

B. Expressing admiration

Use this pattern to express admiration or appreciation for someone’s quality.

我很欣赏你的_____________。(wǒ hěn xīn shǎng nǐ de_____________。)
I admire your___________.

温柔 (wēn róu) gentleness

毅力 (yì lì) perseverance

勇气 (yǒng qì) courage

幽默 (yōu mò) humor

聪明 (cōng míng) intelligence

智慧 (zhì hùi) wisdom

体贴 (tǐ tiē) thoughtfulness

创意 (chuàng yì) creativity

Lesson #5: Idioms for Love

Although cliché, these love-dovey idioms are likely to cross paths with you, so you’d better know them.

1. 一生一世 (yì shēng yí shì) last a lifetime

Example:

祝我们恋爱一生一世。( zhù wǒ mén liàn ài yì shēng yí shì)
I wish that our love will last a lifetime.

2. 白头到老 (bái tóu dào lǎo) grow old together

Example:

祝你们婚姻白头到老。 (zhù nǐ mén hūn yīn bái tóu dào lǎo)
May your marriage endure until you both grow old together.

3. 永不止息 (yǒng bù zhǐ xī) never-ending

Example:

希望我们的爱永不止息。 (xī wàng wǒ mén de ài yǒng bù zhǐ xī)
May our love never end.

4. 快快乐乐过一生 (kuài kuài lè lè gùo yī shēng) happily ever after

Example:

愿你们快快乐乐过一生。 (yuàn nǐ mén kuài kuài lè lè gùo yī shēng)
May you live your lives happily together.

 

If you liked these short lessons, there’s more fun, engaging and romantic language learning content at FluentU.

Head over there to see our extensive library of real-world videos and learning resources, including short films, humor clips and music videos about love.

And, most importantly, enjoy your (extra) Valentine’s Day this summer!

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