The first rains of autumn are falling, tree leaves have turned gorgeous shades of red and yellow, and the cool breeze is gently blowing away the last remainders of summer. Welcome to fall!
To prepare for the season of back-to-school and cooler temperatures, we assembled a collection of fall-related Mandarin Chinese vocabulary. There's lots to learn and love about fall – so let's get started!
Getting away from the sunny warm of summer, fall (秋, qiū) is all about an ever increasing scale of cold. Let's check out different ways to express a range of different cold temperatures.
凉快 (LIÁNG KUAI) – COOL
凉快 is how you feel in the early days of fall, when the hot sun has set, and the temperature feels oh-so-perfect. 凉快 is a positive descriptor, used to express a pleasant chill.
冷 (LĚNG) – COLD
冷 is beginning to venture into the unpleasantly cold territory. It is cold, and you are not comfortable.
好冷 (HǍO LĚNG) – VERY COLD
The temperature is approaching the single digits, and somehow you are outside with only a sweater. 好冷 mean very cold – brrr! Note: This phrase is also used when describing a "cold" joke, which often refers to a pun or a bad joke.
冷死了 (LĚNG SǏLE) – FREEZING
冷死了 literally means "cold to death". It is below zero, you can see your breath in the air, and are actively shivering. Get indoors quick and have a hot beverage to warm up!
To combat the cold, here are the fall clothing essentials.
风衣 (FĒNG YĪ) – TRENCH COAT
风衣 literally translates to "wind clothes," not to be confused with windbreaker jackers. 风衣 means trench coat!
毛衣 (MÁO YĪ) – SWEATER
毛衣 literally translates to "fur/wool clothes". Makes sense, since many sweaters are made of wool and yarn.
靴子 (XUĒ ZI) – BOOTS
靴子 can further break down into long boots – "长靴 (Cháng xuē)" and short boots "短靴 (Duǎn xuē).
围巾 (WÉI JĪN)/围脖 (WÉI BÓ) – SCARF
As an interesting aside, 围脖 is a homophone (words that sound similar, but have different meanings) for the popular Chinese blogging site 微博 (Wēi bó).
The fall is a season filled with holidays. In China, people celebrate a mixture of native Chinese holidays and adopted western holidays.
中秋节 (ZHŌNG QIŪ JIÉ) – MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL
The Mid-autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, the night of the year when the moon is fullest and roundest in the sky.
During the Mid-autumn Festival, families reunite to have dinner and enjoy the bright moon. One food that is always eaten is 月饼 (Yuèbǐng), or mooncakes (Yuèbǐng), or mooncakes – delicious round pastries stuffed with sweet red bean or lotus paste.
国庆节 (GUÓ QÌNG JIÉ) – NATIONAL DAY
National Day, or The National Day of the People's Republic of China, is a public holiday set on October 1st of each year to celebrate the founding of the PRC. This day also kicks off Golden Week, a semi-annual seven day holiday popular for travel and shopping.
万圣节 (WÀN SHÈNG JIÉ) – HALLOWEEN
Halloween has recently been adopted in China, although it has yet to gain widespread popularity. It is more popular in cities with large expat populations, where you may see 南瓜 (Nán guā ) – pumpkins decorate windowsills.
感恩节 (GǍN ĒN JIÉ) – THANKSGIVING
Similar to Halloween, Thanksgiving is catching on in China – just a little. Thanksgiving in China is an occasion to have a western meal with family, and give small gifts to show their appreciation of friends, colleagues, bosses, and teachers.
Among the traditional Thanksgiving foods, 火鸡 (Huǒ jī) – turkey can be hard to find in China, but both 玉米 (Yùmǐ) – corn, and 地瓜 (Dìguā) – sweet potatoes are popular foods that can be found in any supermarket.