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In addition to its many traditional festivals, China has taken to celebrating plenty of holidays from Western culture as well. You might see Santa around Christmas and zombies on Halloween, and you’ll also see smooching couples out and about on Valentine’s Day (情人节 – qíng rén jié). Although China has its own holiday for lovers – the Qi Xi Festival (七夕节 – qī xì jié) – February 14th is just as popular, if not more so. Let’s learn a bit of Chinese related to this romantic holiday and see how people celebrate Valentine’s Day in China.
If you translate the Chinese name for Valentine’s Day directly, it’s “Lover’s Festival.” It’s a day to spend with your lover (情人 – qíng rén). Here are a few words to describe your lover:
Of course, this is a day to express your love (爱情 – Ài qíng). Just like in the West, it’s common for a couple to go out on a date (约会 – yuē huì). Perhaps a romantic (浪漫 – làng màn) night out, like a candlelit dinner (烛光晚餐 – zhú guāng wǎn cān).
Guys are expected to give their lady a gift (礼物 – lǐ wù). That’s right, Chinese guys are duped into buying things on Valentine’s Day as well. Here are the most common examples:
In addition to a gift, you should also give your sweetie a hug (拥抱 – yōng bào), hold hands (双手抱 – shuāng shǒu bào) and kiss (吻 – wěn, or 亲 – qīn).
Of course, the most common phrase you’ll hear on Valentine’s Day is “I love you” (我爱你 – wǒ ài nǐ). If you really want to impress with your Chinese skills though, try some of these out:
In a sign of the increasingly digital times we live in, it’s more and more common to send a coded text message of love using numbers. Here are a few examples:
Now you’re all set for Valentine’s Day in China. If you’re a single person (单身 – dān shēn), never fear – you’ve got your own holiday, too! You just have to wait half a year for it, as China celebrates Single’s Day on 11/11.