New Life Plus Warm Sun Equals … Spring!
by Min Xiong
Are you feeling loved by nature as numerous flowers and new leaves bloom around you? Yes, spring is here!
Let’s look at how Chinese writing captures the essence of spring.
春 (chūn) means new life coming out with the sun. To understand why that is, let’s look at it a little closer.
From my January 2019 article about Chinese New Year, “Happy First Dawn!,” you will recognize the bottom part of chūn, 日 (rì), which means sun.
The top part of 春 (chūn) represents little grasses as they emerge from the earth. This character’s strokes evolved over the course of 3,000 years, so perhaps it would help to show it to you in its oldest form, as it was written on oracle bones.
Here you can see two sets of little grasses and one baby tree surrounding the sun. Now isn’t that just the essence of spring, when new life comes out with the sun? And isn’t it also amazing that even though 3,000 years have passed, the feeling of spring remains the same?
So now when you enjoy spring and all its warmth and blossoms, I hope you will also think of it in Chinese: 春 (chūn). Say the word aloud and you will even hear the gentle breeze rustling all those new leaves.
Now for your Chinese challenge. Do an online search for Chinese characters with the radical 日 (rì). Pick the most interesting one and tell us in the comments what it means. We can’t wait to see what you find! 再见.
Min Xiong is a journalist, Chinese teacher, and cultural ambassador in Washington DC.