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Talking about Idioms (18)

Viewed 508 times 2018-1-1 17:12 |System category:Life

Happy New Year! 

Today is the first day of 2018 and the new year begins. We all expect the new year will bring us a good luck. So I introduce a Chinese idiom about New Year’s Day to express such a desire.

The idiom is  “万象更新”,  mandarin pronunciation wàn xiàng gēng xīn. It means things or surroundings are changing and a new look is appearing. Let me explain the meaning of each word in the idiom: “万” , a number unit for ten thousand, here broadly means everything or universe;  “象”,the elephant, which was regarded as an auspicious animal by ancient Chinese people. There was records in the ancient China that the neighbor countries to the South of China often used elephants as gifts to send to the Emperor's court. During the Two Soung Dynasties, the emperor court even set up an elephant yard. On the day when the Emperor offered sacrifices to gods or ancestors, there was always a grand parade with decorated elephants . “更” means change or replace, and “新” new.  So the idiom “万象更新” describes everything is changing to have a new look, showing a fresh and hopeful vision. 

The origin of the idiom comes from 《红楼梦》(The Story of the Stone),one of the most well-known novels in China, written by Cao Xueqin (曹雪芹)in the Qing Dynasty.  We read in the book : “如今正是初春时节,万物更新,正该鼓舞另立起来才好。” ( Now is the season of early spring, everything is changing to have a new look, which should encourage us to make a new start.”  Since then the idiom “万象更新” has often been written on couplets to celebrate the Chinese lunar new year. Of course, since modern China has adopted the the Gregorian calendar, we can also used it to celebrate New Year’s Day. 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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  • Talking about Idioms (19) 2018-1-9 12:55

    I like this idom especially in winter, as there are a lot of wheat planting in my hometown, western Shandong Province. Auspicious snow can bring a good harvest to the farmers. :)

  • Talking about Idioms (17) 2017-12-29 21:34

    Good luck would become after your failure!

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