While Easter is a Christian holiday that is widely celebrated in many parts of the world, it is not typically celebrated in China, Taiwan, and other Chinese-speaking countries. However, learning festival-related words in Chinese can be a fun way to introduce the holiday to your Chinese friends and deepen cultural understanding of each other. In this blog post, we’ll share five essential Chinese vocabulary words related to Easter that will help you impress and connect with your Chinese language partners closely.
Easter is widely regarded as the most significant celebration in the Christian calendar, as it commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his crucifixion. This event symbolizes Jesus’s triumph over death and offers those who believe in him hope for eternal life.
The Chinese term for Easter is 復活節/复活节 (fù huó jié), which literally translates to “resurrection festival.” This name reflects the central theme of Easter, as it commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let’s take a closer look at each character in the name:
- 復/复 (fù): This character signifies the idea of “returning,” “repeating,” or “restoring,” which conveys the notion of Jesus rising again from the dead.
- 活 (huó): This character means “life” or “to live,” emphasizing the significance of Jesus’s resurrection as a triumph over death and the promise of eternal life.
- 節/节 (jié): This character refers to a “festival,” “holiday,” or “to tie” when used as a verb. It signifies a time of celebration and commemoration, as well as a reminder of the spiritual ties that bind us together
In addition to learning about the origin of Easter, it may be interesting for your Chinese friends to understand why the date of Easter varies each year. This is because Easter is linked to the lunar calendar. Specifically, 復活節/复活节 (fù huó jié) is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon that occurs on or after the vernal equinox, which is usually around March 21st. As a result, the date of Easter can fall anywhere between March 22nd and April 25th each year. If you’re interested in learning how to say those two dates in Chinese, you can check out our podcast lesson on the topic!
On Easter, churches around the world hold special events and services to commemorate the occasion. These activities may include:
- Easter Vigil service: it takes place on the night before Easter Sunday and typically involves the lighting of the Easter candle, readings from the Bible, and the singing of hymns.
- Sunrise Service: this inspiring service takes place at dawn on Easter Sunday and normally includes hymns, prayers, and a message from the pastor.
- Easter Sunday service: this is the main event for most churches. The Easter Sunday service is usually more elaborate and celebratory than usual, with special music, decorations, and a message focused on the resurrection of Jesus.
In addition to these events for adults, many churches organize Bible-based activities for children, such as craft workshops, storytelling time, and Easter egg hunts. This way, the whole family can attend church and enjoy various celebrations together while learning about the religious significance of Easter.
In Chinese, the word for “church” is 教堂 (jiāo táng). The character 教 means “to teach,” and 堂 translates to “hall” in this context. So, literally, 教堂 means “teaching hall.” And here’s a bonus word: If you combine the word for “big” (大) together with 教堂, then you’ll have a word for “cathedral” – 大教堂 (dà jiào táng). This is the term that Chinese people use to refer to large church buildings that are usually more elaborate and ornate than regular churches.
While not all Christian holidays are associated with specific animals, the Easter bunny has become an iconic symbol of the Easter holiday. However, it’s important to note that the Bible doesn’t mention this furry creature with long ears and a short tail.
The Easter bunny only became a popular symbol in the 19th century and is believed to have roots in Pagan traditions. During ancient spring festivals, bunnies were seen as symbols of fertility and new life, as they are known for their rapid reproduction. Later, as the Christian faith spread, the bunny was adapted as a representation of the resurrection of Jesus and new beginnings.
How bunnies became a beloved symbol of Easter would be very interesting for your Chinese friends to learn about. And to say bunny in Chinese is 兔子 (tù zi). 兔 means “rabbit” or “hare,” and 子 acts as a noun suffix with no meaning. How about “Easter bunny” in Chinese? That’s easy! you can say 復活節兔子/复活节兔子 (fùhuójié tùzi; Easter + bunny). The Easter bunny is often associated with chocolate and Easter egg hunts in Western cultures. So, knowing how to say 兔子 and 復活節兔子/复活节兔子 can be a fun and useful way to share cultural knowledge with your Chinese friends.
Dyed egg 彩蛋
Dyed eggs are a beloved Easter tradition with roots in early Christian practices. Easter eggs, in particular, represent the empty tomb from which Jesus rose from the dead. Today, there are many traditions associated with Easter eggs, such as dyeing them in various colors, hunting for them, and giving them as gifts to children.
To say “dyed egg” in Chinese, you can use the term 彩蛋 (cǎi dàn). The character 彩 means “colored,” while 蛋 means “egg.” However, be aware that 彩蛋 can have other meanings in different contexts, such as a “bonus scene” or “end credits scene” in a movie or show. To specifically refer to an “Easter egg,” it’s better to use the full term 復活節彩蛋/复活节彩蛋 (fùhuójié cǎi dàn; Easter + dyed egg).
Hot-cross bun 十字麵包/十字面包
Religious festivals often have strong associations with certain foods and drinks. Easter, for example, is traditionally celebrated with a variety of foods such as chocolate Easter bunnies and eggs, roast lamb, Easter bread, and decorated Easter cakes.
The hot-cross bun is one of the most iconic Easter foods, especially in the UK. These sticky, glazed buns are marked with pastry crosses on the top, which represent the crucifixion of Jesus. While the traditional fruity buns are still popular, modern versions with savory flavors have also become popular. Interestingly, despite the name HOT as in hot-cross buns, these buns can be enjoyed at any temperature, whether fresh from the oven, toasted, or chilled from the refrigerator.
So, you might be interested in how to say “hot-cross bun” in Chinese and share such food traditions with them. It’s 十字麵包/十字面包 (shí zì miàn bāo). 十字 means “cross-shaped,” and 麵包/面包 means “bread.” It’s important to note that the Chinese language doesn’t include the word “hot” in this context because hot-cross buns don’t need to be heated before eating.
In conclusion, while Easter is not traditionally celebrated in Chinese-speaking countries, learning festival-related words in Chinese can be a great way to deepen cultural understanding and strengthen relationships with Chinese friends. By using those five essential Chinese vocabulary words related to Easter, you can impress and connect with your Chinese language partners closely.