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.” Whether you celebrate 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 five essential Chinese words related to this holiday.
Turkey 火鸡 (huǒ jī)
Let’s start with the most popular Thanksgiving food – 火鸡 (turkey)!
Fire (火) + chicken (鸡) = Turkey (火鸡) [literally: fire chicken]
Don’t you think the red flap skin under turkeys’ chins looks as red as “fire?!” The traditional form is 火雞.
Corn 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. We are talking about “corn!”
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.
To gobble 大吃 (dà chī)
Big (大) + eat (吃) = To gobble/eat without restraint (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.
Home/Family 家( jiā)
Everyone needs a place to call home (家).
家, the character for “home” or “family,” is formed by the roof radical 宀 and the building block pig 豕. 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.
Family member 家人 (jiā rén)
Home/family (家) + person (人) = Family member (家人)
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Have a splendid time with your family and enjoy the feast!