Nov 24, 2019

5 Must-know Chinese words about Thanksgiving

By Kelly Chen | A Super Chineasian

Thanksgiving is widely celebrated in the USA and Canada. The Chinese word for Thanksgiving Day is 感恩節/感恩节 (gǎn ēn jié). Literally, it means “to feel thankful” + “holiday.” No matter whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving Day or not, the festival reminds us to be grateful for what we have. Never underestimate the power of gratitude and giving thanks! 

Let’s also take this opportunity to learn some essential Chinese words related to this holiday. It all starts with the most popular Thanksgiving food – 火鸡 (turkey)!

火鸡 huǒ jī

Fire (火) + Chicken (鸡) = Turkey (火鸡) [literally: fire chicken]

Don’t you think the red flap skin under turkeys’ (火鸡) chins look as red as “fire?!” The traditional form is 火雞.

玉米 yù mǐ

It’s mostly yellow or white but it can be a multicolored bundle as well. It can be ground and used as a thickening agent for sauces. It could have as many as 259 varieties according to Cornell University’s catalog.

Yes, we are talking about “corn,” and it is called 玉米 in Chinese.
Jade (玉) + Rice (米) = Corn (玉米) [literally] (jade rice)

When 玉米 was first imported to China, it was considered as precious as “jade!” Talking about 玉米, cornbread (玉米麵包/玉米面包; corn + bread) is quite often served for a Thanksgiving dinner.

大吃 dà chī

Big (大) + Eat (吃) = To eat without restraint/gobble (大吃)

Probably no one knows what was served at the very first Thanksgiving dinner dating back to 1621. Still, nowadays, most Americans tend to associate the festival with a feast, one of the highlights of the day.

家 jiā

Everyone needs a place to call home (家).

家, the character for ‘home’, is formed by the building blocks 宀 (roof) and 豕 (pig). In ancient China, people kept pigs inside their homes to keep them safe. Having pigs in the house became associated with having a bountiful home. Besides “home,” 家 can also mean “house,” or “residence.”

家人 jiā rén

Home/house (家) + Person (人) = Person of the house = Family; Family member (家人)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Have a splendid time with your family and enjoy the feast!

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By Kelly Chen | A Super Chineasian

Kelly is a dreamer and a traveler, who loves to study of individuals, groups, or organisations and all the activities associated with the purchase behaviour, including the consumer's emotional, mental and behavioural responses.

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