And—surprise!—it’s coming around again a second time this year for all you Chinese learners.
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.
织女 (zhī nü), whose name means Weaver Girl, was the daughter of a goddess. Zhinü fell in love with a mortal, 牛郎 (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)
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。)
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
花 (huā) flowers
音乐专辑 (yīn yuè zhuān jí) music album
书 (shū) book
首饰 (shǒu shì) jewelry
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
电子器件 (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/很漂亮/美丽动人。 (nǐ de_______ hěn měi lì/hěn piào liàng/měi lì dòng rén)
Your________ is beautiful/pretty/is beautifully moving.
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
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
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
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
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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