Has spring arrived in your town?


This year spring starts today at 7:21 pm Eastern Daylight Saving Time when the vernal equinox takes place. This is when the sun is situated directly above the equator, and the night and day are approximately of equal length in time. In Chinese, the vernal equinox is called 春分 (chūn fēn). (chūn) is spring, and (fēn) means division or separation.

Some people believe that the forces in the universe are better balanced at this time so that it’s easier to stand an egg on its end. Others discount this claim for lack of a scientific basis. You can read all about the debate by searching the Internet for articles on balancing an egg at the time of the equinoxes. If you wish to try your hand at making an egg stand on its end, I would suggest first letting the raw egg come to room temperature. Let the egg lean against a support for a few minutes, with the large end resting on the countertop. This will permit the egg yolk to settle toward the bottom and allow the egg to readily achieve a state of stable equilibrium while you are balancing it. If that oval object, called (dàn egg), refuses to cooperate, just crack it and make a pancake or an omelet.

A standing egg

Anyhow, what interests us more here is to learn a few Chinese words related to springtime. In the days of sping, 春天 (chūntiān), we are blessed with warmer weather, which also enlivens the flowers and the birds.

春天来了! Chūntiān lái le! Spring has come!
花儿开. Huār kāi. Flowers are blooming.
鸟儿叫. Niǎor jiào. The birds call.

(ér) is a son. It is often added to another word to indicate smallness or cuteness. In this case, it’s customary to slur over this word so all one hears is the “r” sound added to the preceding word. means “to open”. The Chinese describe the action of blooming as the flowers opening up. is the action of calling or exclaiming.

In North America, the crocuses, 番红花 (fān hóng huā), are usually the first ones to peep out of the ground in spring. Two other popular early bloomers are: 水仙花 (shuǐ xiān huā daffodils) and 郁金香 (yùjīnxiāng tulips). Taken apart, the indivudial characters have the following meanings:

(fān) barbarian, a bout
(hóng) is the red color.
(huā) means flowers.
(shuǐ) is water.
(xiān) is a fairy or mythical being.
(huā) means flowers.
(yùjīnxiāng) means fragrant or depressed (sad).
(jīn) is gold or metal.
(yùjīnxiāng) means fragrant or aromatic.

The colors of the flowers are the more vivid when contrasted against a background of greenery.

(cǎo) means grass, and 草地 (cǎodì) is a lawn or a meadow.
(shù) is the word for one or more trees. The word for leaves is (yè). So, 树叶 (shùyè) are the leaves of a tree.

Those of you whose front yards are still buried under snow could close your eyes and imagine the beauty and delight of springtime. After all, it’s the emotion that one feels that matters.

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