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Talking about Idioms (20)

Viewed 1414 times 2018-1-16 19:18 |System category:Life

In cold winter of the north, we can still see the pine and the cypress have green leaves even though they are covered snows and ice. They are so remarkable to be noticed in the cold weather that makes people to praise them. 

One Chinese idiom which is often used to express such a feeling is called “岁寒知松柏 (suì hán zhī sōng bǎi)”,  meaning only when the year grows cold do we see the qualities of the pine and the cypress. The idiom is often been used to describe a person’s quality, telling us it is only through a severe test that a person real quality can be seen.The idiom comes from the Analects of Confucius which says: “ It comes to a cold season to know the last withering trees are the pine and the cypress.”

These two kinds of ever-green trees can endure cold. They grow widely in the areas of North China and East China. Due to originally long live in cold environment , they formed their own unique structures keeping out of the cold. The leaves of the pine and the cypress are generally narrowed in a needle, linear, or scaly shape. Because the leaf area is small, moisture is not easy to evaporate and dissipate. The pine bark also contains turpentine which can produce sugar and fat in the plant cells when the temperature is low so as to prevent freezing.

 The pine is towering and the cypress is solemn, which are evergreen in seasons. Therefore, the Chinese people, since ancient time, have a special feelings toward them, and commonly used them to symbolize unyielding character. In addition, in Chinese paintings, these three plants — pine, bamboo and plum — are called as the“ three friends in the cold season".

(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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