Hanzi of the day! 包

Hey everybody! It's been a few busy weeks for me, so I let that blog thing slack... Apologies. Let's see if I can get everyone's attention back with our favourite thing about the holiday season! Presents!!!

In the majority of the western Christian world, the holidays are associated with the exchange of gifts which magically materialise overnight under a dieing evergreen tree, however every country adds its own unique twist on that tradition: In England traditionally gifts must be left in socks (if you want a big present, make sure you've left a big sock); in Spain it is actually St. Nicolas that brings the presents and not Santa Claus...

Unwrapping gifts!

"Yes mum, I'm really happy to see you, but seriously, what did you get me for Christmas?"

In China, due to lack of Christians, Christmas is not AS celebrated, but children receive gifts, or rather 红包 hóngbāo (a red envelope full of money) on Chinese New Year. Those red envelopes are given from the married to the non-married and contain money (one way to make children look towards endless dinners with adults I suppose...). This brings us to today's featured character: 包

(bāo) is a rather simple character with a plethora of meanings, among which bag, wrap, box, bundle, package... It is a phono-semantic character consisting of semantic component 巳 (not fully formed child) and a phonetic element 勹 and its original meaning was... Placenta.

Character evolution!
The character also occurs in bread (面包). Next time you eat some, remember that you literally have your face (面) full of placenta (包).

Now on a brighter note, since I am Bulgarian I will talk about how Bulgarian children extract money from their parents at the end of the year: By savagely beating them with a stick!

"It's OK, dad, this will hurt you more than it does me...

This tradition is ancient and nobody really knows how it started, but it is called Survakane (Сурвакане) and it involves a child wielding a decorated cornel tree stick, mercilessly beating onto an adult's back, while reciting a special poem that wishes a prosperous harvest to the victim. The ritual terminates when the adult, much like a piñata, gives away a present (usually small treats, or money). If you want to spice up this holiday season, this is the way to go!

Until next time!


Update: I have been made aware that Romanians also enjoy beating up their elders for money.

Image sources: pexels pexels wikipedia pexels