Today is Monday, January 31st, 2022 and this is your Everyday Easy Chinese briefing. 大家好！ 我是林老师 and today is 除夕(chú xī) Lunar New Year’s eve. If you don’t already know, tomorrow is the start of the new lunar year of the Tiger. And on the day of the lunar new year’s eve, families reunite and celebrations are held to welcome in the new year. Let’s have a look at words related to the eve of the Lunar New Year so you can learn more about the traditional Chinese traditions.
年夜饭 (nián yè fàn) Reunion dinner
The first word is 年夜饭 (nián yè fàn) which means reunion dinner. Let’s look at each character of this word, 年 means year and 夜 means night, and 饭 means meal. 年夜饭 refers to the last meal of the year and that’s why the character 夜 is in the word to symbolize that it is a dinner, which is the last meal of the day. 除夕，所有的中国人都会和家人一起吃年夜饭。(Chúxī, suǒyǒu de zhōngguó rén dōuhuì hé jiārén yīqǐ chī nián yèfàn.) On Lunar New Year’s eve, all Chinese people have a reunion dinner with their families.
鱼 (yú) Fish / 余 (yú) Abdunance
And talking about the dinner itself, the food eaten will usually symbolize some good fortune that the Chinese would want in the new year. One such dish is a whole fish. Fish in Chinese is 鱼 (yú) and this sounds the same as the character for surplus or abundance, which is also pronounced 余 (yú). There is a common Lunar New Year saying which is 年年有余 (nián nián yǒu yú) May there be abundance every year, this also sounds the same as ‘may there be fish every year'.
守岁 (shǒu suì) All night party
Finally, another related tradition is 守岁 (shǒu suì) which means an ‘all night party'. Let’s look at each character of the word, 守 means to guard and 岁 means age or year. It literally means ‘to guard age’. So young people do this in the belief that the longer you stay awake, the longer the years they are extending the life of their parents.