Valentine’s Day in Chinese

Robins

Robins


We had three 烛光晚餐 (Zhúguāng wǎncān candlelight dinners) in a row, albeit not by choice. An overnight snow storm draped the entire landscape with 9 inches of whiteness, transforming our town into a magical cake slathered with a generous layer of frosting, and its features artfully decorated with icing. The pointed branches of the fir trees provided an elegant framework for showcasing the icy gracefulness. These were indeed beautiful to behold. We would have continued to enjoy this tranquil winter scene had the power not suddenly gone out after three days of incessant snowing. In our neck of woods, that also meant no gas and water. The eventual return of electricity ended the fun of camping by our wood stove. Life snaps back to the Internet mode.

During a lull in the snow storm, a colony of 知更鸟 (zhīgēngniǎo robins) graced the flowering cherry tree in our front yard. I snapped a few photos from the comfort of this side of the window. This I give as an excuse for the blurriness of the picture, which, on the other hand, lends it a sort of 朦胧的美 (ménglóng de měi hazy or veiled beauty).

Like the little birds, little children seem carefree and innocent while they are at play. Often they mimic grown-ups, perhaps in preparation for their own adulthood. Hence such children’s games and nursery rhymes as “He loves me, he loves me not” and “Lavender’s Blue”. Following is a translation of the first stanza of “Lavender’s Blue”, also known as “Lavender Blue”. I thought the rendition of “Lavender’s Blue” at this link is rather cute.

薰衣草蓝又香,
Xūn yī cǎo lán yòu xiāng,
Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly,
Lavender is blue and fragrant,

薰衣草绿.
Xūn yī cǎo lǜ
Lavender’s green.
Lavender is green.

我当王, 喜洋洋,
Wǒ dāng wáng, xǐyángyáng,
When I am king, dilly dilly,
I’ll be the king, and joyfully

来把你娶.
lái bǎ nǐ qǔ.
You shall be queen.
come to wed you.

In the second stanza, there is a question the translation of which you may find handy.

谁说的?
Shé shuō de?
Who said so?

是谁告诉你的?
Shì shé gàosù nǐ de?
Who told you so?

In Chinese, childhood sweethearts are often spoken of as 青梅竹马 (qīngméizhúmǎ). 青梅 (qīngméi) are green plums that are often pickled for snacking. These green fruits may be construed as referring to the immature young girls. 竹马 (zhúmǎ) is a bamboo pole or broom that young boys straddle and “ride” around as a “pretend horse”. Therefore, this term refers to the young boys.

Does this remind you of your own puppy love? Do you still miss your childhood sweetheart?

情人节快乐!
Qíngrén Jié kuàilè!
Happy Valentine’s Day!

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