Our Daughter’s Baptism

Today our little girl was baptized in the very same church as her brother back in 2014. It is also the same church were I was baptized all those year ago in 1987. As I have written in the article “Our Son’s Baptism” the church is called the Finnish Seamen’s Church and was founded 1966 in Hamburg. We decided to have Nathalie’s baptism in the same church as it just seems to be already a tradition in our family by now.

Nathalie in my arms after the ceremony

 

Unlike at our son’s baptism the church was rather empty this time as we were to only people there. The only guests besides my parents were my brother and his girlfriend. Back in 2014 another family had their child’s baptism and they were a big big family. This time it was for us much more relaxed and obviously much shorter. Only when it came to the singing part is sounded a bit weak as all of us are suffering under the common cold thanks to Nathan who brings back home all kind of craziness from kindergarten.

Nathan amazed by the church’s parrot

We expected the worst behaviour of our daughter as she just loves to complain and cry whenever she gets bored with something. However we were blessed with a little angel for this day as she smiled during the whole ceremony and was watching the reverend with big eyes when she was playing the piano and singing. Apparently our little Nathalie loves church songs as she never cared at all about my or my wife’s music! After the ceremony we had just like three years ago some bread, coffee, Karelian Pirogs and Pulla. Nothing fancy but enough for us and in Finland everything is usually pretty low-key.

Nathalie not being sceptical about her Uncle (see Nathan’s Baptism Article)

 

So what is now the complete name of our daughter? Her official name is Nathalie 逸诗 (Yishi) Amalia. The first name here again is something English and German speakers shouldn’t have any problems with, the second name is obviously her Chinese name and the third one is her Finnish name which we took from her great-grandmother from my mother’s side. In comparison our son’s full name is Nathan 逸然(Yiran) Antti. You can see they are very similar and Antti was actually the name of my mother’s Uncle.

What naming ceremonies/ traditions do you have?

Be sure to follow me also on Facebook and on Twitter as I will post there occasionally pictures which do not find their way into my blog posts. Furthermore there is also my Instagram account in which from time to time some pictures and short videos might pop up.

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Guest Post: Gift giving in China

Who doesn’t love to receive gifts? On the other hand, there are many people who love to give gifts, taking great pleasure of seeing the joy and appreciation in the faces of others as they start to open their presents…

Yet, in China, the giving of gifts is quite different from what you may be used to—and, whilst it’s important to make sure you give an appropriate gift, it’s perhaps more important to make sure don’t give anything likely to cause offence or, particularly in seriously superstitious China, perceived bad luck!

So, what sort of gifts should you give?

Well, money is always most welcome—more often than not placed in a red envelope, or hóng bāo and given to the recipient with both hands (this is the appropriate etiquette for all gift giving, by the way). Giving money for birthdays is mainly for elders and children and you may need advice on the suitable amounts to give.

 Then there is fresh fruit or special, quality foods—both ideally imported or, perhaps, local snacks or food items representative of your home country—nicely displayed in a fruit basket or well packaged and visually appealing. Imported wines and bottles of whiskey or brandy will always find favour with older recipients.

Certain items of practical clothing are always welcome and, especially for the younger generation, both Chinese girls and young men, if a brand name from overseas, all the better! However, be careful with overly bright colours for the older generation.

Some may appreciate receiving health supplements such as ginseng, herbal teas or, maybe, a well-known brand of vitamins.

Of course this list is not exhaustive and, as you get to better know the people you are giving to, you may be able to personalise the giving to further meet their expectations.


Having said this, in China, sometimes the gift being received has ominous connotations and there are some gifts which should be avoided at all costs, as name of items shares a similar pronunciation to something undesirable or has negative cultural symbolism.
Such gifts to avoid include: gifts of money which include the number four (such as 40 or 400) as the pronunciation of four sounds similar to the word for death, sǐ. Hats or, more particularly, green hats, should also be avoided as the phrase to wear a green hat is used to imply that a man’s spouse is cheating on him. In a similar vein, the word for umbrella sounds like the word to separate so giving an umbrella symbolises that the relationship between you and the recipient may soon dissolve.

Another one: due to the sound connection between the phrase to give a clock and activities related to death, as you might expect, giving a clock is in bad taste—but also is giving chrysanthemums as they’re often used for funerals.
Finally, shoes: avoid buying shoes for your Chinese girlfriend as the connotation is that she may use them to walk or run away from you, thereby ending your relationship.

However, don’t worry unduly, gift giving in China not as complicated as it seems—plus, you can always ask one of your Chinese friends to help you out with your planned selection before you buy something!

 

 

Keith is the author of the website Love Asian women and has lived in Asia for over 30 years. He is adept at sharing tips about meeting, keeping relationships with and dating Asian women in order to help you find your ideal Asian bride!

How are your experiences with gift giving in other countries or especially in China?

 

Guest Post: Learn Chinese through Mandarin Song – “A Little Happiness”

This article was written by TutorMandarin, an online learn Chinese tutoring service that helps students speak Mandarin using their learn Chinese app and PC Software.

“A Little Happiness” (小幸运/Xiǎo xìngyùn) is a Taiwanese song composed by Shi-Zhen Xu (徐世珍) and Hui-Fu Wu (吴辉福), and by JerryC.

The song was recorded by singer/actress Hebe Tien in 2015 and became the first Mandarin song to reach over a hundred million views on Youtube.

Theme Song of Mandarin Film “Our Times”

So,why is this song so popular? The song is beautifully written with touching lyrics and melody, but more importantly, it came out on the soundtrack of the blockbuster Taiwan film “Our Times” (我的少女时代, Wǒ de shàonǚ shídài). A little happiness was the theme song that accompanied some of the movies most touching scenes.

The song was actually written from the movie and matches it almost perfectly. The lyrics of the song talk about the highschool life of the main characters. As a period piece set in the 1990s, the music evokes the nostalgic atmosphere of the time. Pro tip: for those learning Chinese, watching Mandarin movies, shows, and listening to Chinese song is a wonderful way to improve your fluency!

Hebe Tien – “A Little Happiness” Official Music Video

Lyrics with Chinese, Pinyin and English

我听见雨滴落在青青草地                                                                                Wǒ tīngjiàn yǔdī luò zài qīngqīng cǎodì                                                          I heard raindrops dripping on the green lawn

我听见远方下课钟声响起                                                                                Wǒ tīngjiàn yuǎnfāng xiàkè zhōng shēng xiǎngqǐ                                   I heard class-dismiss bells ringing from far away

可是我没有听见你的声音                                                                            Kěshì wǒ méiyǒu tīngjiàn nǐ de shēngyīn                                                  But I didn’t hear from you

认真  呼唤我姓名                                                                                          Rènzhēn hūhuàn wǒ xìngmíng                                                                     Calling my name earnestly

爱上你的时候[1]还不懂感情                                                                                Ài shàng nǐ de shíhòu hái bù dǒng gǎnqíng                                                  I didn’t know what’s love when I was in love with you

离别了才觉得刻骨铭心[2]                                                                                   Líbiéle cái juédé kègǔmíngxīn                                                                              Only found out how much you mean to me after we aparted

为什么没有发现遇见[3]了你                                                                      Wèishéme méiyǒu fāxiàn yùjiànle nǐ                                                               Why didn’t I notice that meeting you

是生命最好的事情                                                                                                 Shì shēngmìng zuì hǎo de shìqíng                                                                       Is the best thing in my life

#也许当时忙着微笑和哭泣                                                                          Yěxǔ dāngshí mángzhe wéixiào hé kūqì                                                Maybe we were busily smiling and crying

忙着追逐天空中的流星                                                                             Mángzhe zhuīzhú tiānkōng zhōng de liúxīng                                              Busily chasing the shooting stars in the sky

 

理所当然[4]的忘记                                                                                         Rén lǐsuǒdāngrán de wàngjì                                                                                   People always forget and take for granted

是谁风里雨里一直[5]默默守护在原地                                                            Shì shéi fēng lǐ yǔ lǐ yīzhí mòmò shǒuhù zàiyuán dì                                  Who’s the one always guarding us in the wind and storms

[Chorus] ———

原来你是我最想留住的幸运[6]                                                                            Yuánlái nǐ shì wǒ zuì xiǎng liú zhù de xìngyùn                                             So it’s you, my happiness that I wanted to keep the most

原来我们和爱情曾经靠得那么近                                                            Yuánlái wǒmen hé àiqíng céngjīng kào dé nàme jìn                                 Realizing that we had once been so close to love

 

那为我对抗世界的决定                                                                                             Nà wèi wǒ duìkàng shìjiè de juédìng                                                      Your decision to fight this world with me

那陪我淋的雨                                                                                                                 Nà péi wǒ lín de yǔ                                                                                                   Soak in the rain with me

一幕幕[7]都是你                                                                                                           Yīmù mù dōu shì nǐ                                                                                                      You’re everywhere in my life

一尘不染[8]的真心                                                                                                      Yīchénbùrǎn de zhēnxīn                                                                                          Your flawless and sincere heart

与你相遇 好幸运                                                                                                           Yǔ nǐ xiāngyù hǎo xìngyùn                                                                                So lucky to encounter you

但我也失去为你泪流满面[9]的权利                                                                  dàn wǒ yě shīqù wèi nǐ lèi liú mǎnmiàn de quánlì                                      But I’ve lost the right to shed tears for you

但愿在我看不到的天际                                                                                             Dàn yuàn zài wǒ kàn bù dào de tiānjì                                                               I just hope that in the edge of sky where I can’t see

你张开了双翼                                                                                                             Nǐ zhāng kāile shuāngyì                                                                                      You’re opening your wings

遇见你的注定[10]                                                                                                   Yùjiàn nǐ de zhùdìng                                                                                             And meeting your Mr./Ms. Right

她会有多幸运                                                                                                               Tā huì yǒu duō xìngyùn                                                                                     She/he will be so lucky

———

青春是段跌跌撞撞[11]的旅行                                                                 Qīngchūn shì duàn diédiézhuàngzhuàng de lǚxíng                                 Youth is a stumbled journey

 

拥有着后知后觉[12]的美丽                                                                  Yǒngyǒuzhe hòu zhī hòu jué dì měilì                                                               With the beauty of having regrets

来不及感谢是你给我勇气                                                                         Láibují gǎnxiè shì nǐ gěi wǒ yǒngqì                                                                   I was late to thank you for giving me courage

让我能做回我自己                                                                                               Ràng wǒ néng zuò huí wǒ zìjǐ                                                                            To become who I am

Repeat # & [Chorus]

Chinese Language Learning:  Phrases and Chengyu

If you’re already familiar with Chinese Chengyu then you’ll be quick spot several cheng yus hidden within this song. For those in the dark, a “Chengyu” (成语, Chéngyǔ) a Chinese idiom that typically consists of four Chinese characters. With only 4 characters, Chengyus are a very concise way of quickly expressing a deep meaning based on a familiar story. Chengyus are so popular and efficient, you will hear them frequently used in daily conversation by all  levels of society.

In order to remember Chengyus you have to know not only 4 characters of the idiom, but also the background story that gave birth to it. Below are several Chinese phrases a Chengyu in the song and their meanings.

1. …时候 (…de shí hòu) : When…

时候 (shí hòu) means “a period of time”. We can put some words in front of 时候 to become different meanings.

(1) “什么 (Shén me)”, meaning “what”  + 时候 = when

(2) “小 (Xiǎo)”, meaning “little” +  时候 = when I was young/childhood

(3) In the content, 的 means “of” in English, and thus …的时候 means “the time of/when…”

2. 刻骨铭心 (Kè gǔ míng xīn) : [Chengyu] (carve) (bones) (print) (heart)      

Something is too unforgettable just like it’s engraved on one’s bones and memories.

3. 遇 (yù jiàn) : meet/encounter

The word “遇” means to meet or to come across. In this song, there are “相遇  (Xiāngyù)” and “遇见 (yùjiàn)” two words related to “meet”. The former one 相遇 emphasizes meeting “with each other” while the later simply means you “meet” someone.

4. 理所当然 (lǐ suǒ dāng rán): [Chengyu] (matters)(suppose to be)当然(of course)

理所当然 means something seems naturally reasonable and right. In Chinese, we often say “take something for granted” using this chengyu.

(1) 视…为理所当然 (Shì… wéi lǐ suǒ dāng rán): take…for granted. Usually, this contains negative meanings, indicating someone always think themselves deserves to have anything but actually they don’t.

(2) The chengyu in this lyrics, “人理所当然的忘记” means “naturally and unevitably doing something.”

5. 一直 (yī zhí): keep doing…

6. 幸运 (xìng yùn) : good luck/happiness (Noun.)

7. 一幕幕 (Yī mù mù): every scene/screen

Literally “幕” means movie screen or stage curtain, but further we would use this word as the scene in our memories.

8. 一尘不染 (yī chén bù rǎn) :  [Chengyu] (one)(dust)(not)(stained)

Normally this chengyu is used to describe the house is so clean that there’s no even a dust. In the song, “一尘不染的真心” means the sincere heart is so true that it’s flawless.

9. 泪流满面 (lèi liú mǎn miàn) : [Chengyu] (tears)(running down)(full)(face)

This is a common-used chengyu describing someone crying so hard that the face is full covered by tears.

10. 注定 (zhù dìng): destined to…

In the lyrics, 注定 is a noun meaning “destiny” or “destined one”.

11. 跌跌撞撞 (dié dié zhuàng zhuàng):  [Chengyu] 跌跌(fall down)撞撞(bump)

The image of the chengyu is that someone stumbles and cannot walk steadily, kind of like walking like they’re drunk. In addition, we often use it to describe abstractly that the life journey isn’t going smoothly. This sond adopt the later meaning that the youth is a stumbled path.

12. 后知后 (hòu zhī hòu jué): [Chengyu] (after)(found out)(after)(feel)

The chengyu describes someone has slower reaction and takes longer than the right time to figure out the fact or their feelings.

Hope you enjoy this Mandarin song and film. It’s also a good way to improve your Chinese listening skill or you can just relaxingly listen to this touching theme song. As for the film, I’m sure it will be a movie that make you laugh, cry, and feel touched!

Have Songs and their Music Videos helping you with language studies?

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