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30 Dragon Boat Festival 端午节

你们好吗? Hi everyone, thanks for joining us for another episode of Growing up with Chinese 成长汉语.

There is a holiday atmosphere in the studio today. But not because it’s an actual holiday today while we are filming, but rather it’s a holiday in our story line with Mike, 小明 and 兰兰. So yes, they made it home without mishap*1 from their day spent at 后海. And I assume 兰兰 wasn’t too late for her 钢琴课 piano lesson. So what holiday are they celebrating today? Well, let’s take a look at today’s dialogue and find out.

Mike:对,是我。兰兰,那本《藏地密码》你看完了吗? 能借我看看吗?

Mike:粽子? 我从来没听你说过啊! 兰兰,到底什么是粽子?
Mike:端午节? 我知道。我听老师讲过,中国人过端午节来纪念,纪念……屈……?



I’m guessing you can all tell that it is a traditional Chinese holiday that’s being celebrated. And as we all know there’re many. So which one is it? Let’s take a closer look at today’s dialogue and find out.

兰兰, 那本《藏地密码》你看完了吗? 能借我看看吗? 兰兰, have you finished reading 藏地密码? Can you lend it to me to read? 本 is the measure word for book, so 那本《藏地密码》is that book 藏地密码. 看 is to read, and 完了 is finish, 看完了吗? Are you done reading it? 借 is to borrow or lend. So 能借我看看吗? means “Can you lend it to me to read?”

Mike:对,是我。兰兰,那本《藏地密码》你看完了吗? 能借我看看吗

我们在包粽子. We are wrapping 粽子. 包 is the verb used when you’re making something that means wrapping like 粽子 or Chinese dumplings or even on present. All these actions use the verb 包 to wrap.

Now 粽子 we don’t have an equivalent form in English because it is a special Chinese food associated with 端午节 or Dragon Boat Festival. Basically it’s a pyramid-shaped rice ball that typically wrapped in reeds leaves. And then boiled until it’s cooked. We’ll be talking more about 粽子 in just a bit. But in any case, 我们在包粽子 means we are wrapping 粽子.

Mike:粽子? 我从来没听你说过啊! 兰兰,到底什么是粽子?

粽子啊, 是一种非常有特色的中国传统美食. 粽子, it’s a special kind of traditional Chinese food. All right, now we’ve got quite a few adjectives in this sentence so let’s look at them more one at a time*2. 一种 is one type or one kind. 非常 is very. 特色 we’ve covered before, in this case it’s implying special. 传统 is traditional. And 美食 means food but it’s speaking particularly about a good food. 一种非常有特色的中国传统美食. A kind of very special traditional Chinese food.


我们刚刚做好了一些. 来, 你尝尝. We just finished making some. Here, have a try. 刚刚 implies just, 刚刚做好 is just finished. 尝 is the verb to taste. 尝尝 can also be 尝一尝 which is a more colloquial way to say “here, have a try,” “have a taste.”


OK, that concludes our general overview of today’s content, and now it’s time to get into some specifics.

First off let’s go to today’s vocabulary.

  • 借 to borrow. jiè
  • 粽子 a pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous*3 rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. zòng zi
  • 非常 extremely, very. fēi cháng
  • 传统 traditional. chuán tǒng
  • 比赛 competition. bǐ sài
  • 煮 boil, cook. zhǔ
  • 香 fragrant. xiāng
  • 刚刚 just, just now, a moment ago. gāng gāng

Now rice or 米 is the main ingredient in 粽子s. So today we are going to be looking at the rice radical and we find it in none other than that 粽 of 粽子. So let’s take a look at this character right now.

We have our rice radical and then we have a right hand component. Now, the radical for rice doesn’t really change from the character. So over here, we have the component 宗. This is where 粽 gets its sound and it’s made of rice, right?

OK, here’s some more characters that have the rice radical. 粉 powder, noodles. 料 material, grain meal. 粘 glue, paste, stick.


We’ve covered many Chinese holidays in our cultural spotlight. But Dragon Boat Festival has not been among them.

端午节 happens on the fifth day of the fifth month of China’s lunar calendar. Many Asian countries actually have celebrations on this day of the lunar calendar. So it can be fun to see how the celebrations differ from country to country. There are quite a few stories surrounding the birth of this holiday in China. However but for the most part people take this day to commemorate 屈原.

屈原 is credited with being China’s first known poet. And he was also a minister for the state of 楚 during Warring States Period, which was roughly from the fifth to the third century BCE so long time ago.

屈原 is said to have lived from around three forty − two seventy-eight BCE and was known as being wise and intelligent and he loved the state of 楚 very deeply. He experienced many difficulties and his role as a minister, but nothing could hamper*4 his love for his country.

Now, when the state of 楚 was destroyed and conquered by the powerful state of 秦, 屈原 absolutely could not bear it. It is said that he drowned himself because he couldn’t take seeing the fall of his beloved country.

Now the locals in the area where he drowned were desperate to save him because he was beloved. They brought out their long thin fishing boats and rushed into the river. They’ve been gone to please the river dragon into returning to his body. People on the banks of the river threw 粽子s into the water to try to distract the fish and keep them from getting too close to 屈原’s body.

Hence the custom of Dragon Boat Racing and the eating of 粽子 are ways in which people today commemorate the patriotic poet and wise minister 屈原.


All right it’s time for some language point discussion and we will start with 只要, so long as, provided.

只要 implies that something or some condition must be met. Now today, we see it in 只要过端午节, 人们都要吃粽子. So long as it’s Dragon Boat Festival, everyone eats 粽子. So the condition of celebrating Dragon Boat Festival must be met for people to eat 粽子. 只要你们去, 我就去. So long as you guys go, then I will go too. 就 is commonly used in a 只要 pattern and it functions kind of like then.

  • Mike你喜欢吃什么菜?/只要你做的菜我都喜欢吃。
  • 你是Michael Jackson的fans吗?/当然,只要他的歌我都喜欢听。

从来. 从来 is an adverb and it implies that the past and present are the same. Nothing has changed, all along, always. So, 我从来没听你说过呀. I’ve never heard of you mentioned this before. 我从来没去过中国. I have never been to China. 她对我从来都很好. She’s always treated me well. Let’s look at some more examples of 从来.

  • Mike, 你的衣服,换给你。/这是我的衣服吗? 我怎么从来没见过?
  • 你知道“端午节”吗?/不,我从来没听说过。

到底. 到底 has a few functions. But today, we see it used as an adverb in an interrogative sentence for emphasis. 到底什么是粽子? What on earth are 粽子? So you can use 到底 the way we might use what on earth or any other adverbial emphasis in English. 你到底去还是不去. For the last time are you going to go or not?

  • 到底在说什么? 我不明白。/那好,我说慢点儿。
  • 小明,他到底去哪儿了? 我找了他半天了。/我也不知道。

Hmm, I think I’m going to go hunt down a 粽子 for my snack of the day. Now even though they are the traditional food eaten on Dragon Boat Festival, 粽子s can be found at other times of the year.

Now, on that note it’s time to wrap things up. Thanks for joining us everyone. Don’t forget you can always visit our website if you want to review or submit any questions or comments you might have. See you all next time. 大家, 加油. Bye for now, 再见.

Episodeに出てくる藏地密码(The Tibet Code)とは、この小説のことのようです。



*1:mishap 不運

*2:one at a time ひとつずつ

*3:glutinous 粘着性の

*4:hamper 妨げる