Ep16: Lunar New Year's Eve | Jī-káu-mê 二九暝

Ep16: Lunar New Year's Eve | Jī-káu-mê 二九暝
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In this episode, we’ve talked about some of the Lunar New Year’s Eve traditions in Taiwan.

(These show notes use tables and rich formatting. Please visit the episode webpage for an optimal viewing experience.)

SENTENCES AND VOCABULARY
TAIWANESE ENGLISH
Sin-khuài-lo̍k! Happy New Year!
sin-li̍k Western Gregorian calendar, literally the “new calendar”
kū-li̍k the Traditional or lunar calendar, literally the “old calendar”. Also known as “lông-li̍k”, the “farming calendar”.
sin new
old
kuè- the lunar new year, the turn of the year
kuè to cross, to go over, to pass
sin-tsiann / sin-tshun the lunar new year
khuà- celebrating the New Year when going from Dec 31st to Jan 1st according to the Western calendar

Usage note: a new term borrowed from Mandarin “kuànián” (in Mandarin Pinyin), used by some speakers.

sin-ê guān-bōng New Year’s resolution
guān-bōng wish, resolution
jī-káu- New Year’s Eve (literally: “the 29th’s night”). Also referred to as “kuè-nî-àm”.
tsiann-gue̍h tshe-it New Year’s Day
tshe + number 1-10 the 1st to 10th day of the New Year’s holiday or of any month in general; “tshe” means “beginning”.

Pronunciation note:tshe” is used with the colloquial reading of the numbers.

sàng-sîn to make offerings to the Kitchen God on the 23rd or 24th of the 12th month
uî-lôo to gather around with family and have a holiday feast during New Year’s Eve
nî-tshài a dish served especially during the New Year’s eve dinner
tshài dishes; vegetable
tn̂g-nî-tshài a dish symbolizing “longevity”, eaten on New Year’s Eve

Culture note: In Northern Taiwan, this tends to be “kuà-tshài” (mustard greens). In the south, it tends to “pue-lîng-á” (spinach), cooked as a whole bunch with the stalks and the roots.

kuà-tshài mustard greens
pue-lîng-á spinach
kú-tshài garlic chives
kú-kú-tn̂g-tn̂g an expression meaning “for a long, long time”
thôo-tāu peanuts
Tsia̍h thôo-tāu, tsia̍h kah la̋u-lāu-lāu. a saying to wish someone a long life: “eat peanuts, live until you’re old.”

Pronunciation note: The first “lāu” changes to a mid-rising tone “la̋u”, or a ninth tone. If you want to know more about triplicated adjectives and this special tone change, check out our episode on the Ninth Tone from our Pronounce it Like a Pro podcast series.

huat-kué Prosperity cake, a traditional steamed cake with a distinctive top split into 4 sections.

Check out our Instagram for an image of huat-kué! Don't forget to follow us if you haven't already!

tshài-thâu-kué turnip or radish cake
tshài-thâu long white radish, also known as daikon
hó-tshái-thâu a saying to wish someone prosperity
tsuân ke whole chicken
Tsia̍h ke, khí-ke. a saying that goes “eat chicken, and your home, family, or business will prosper”
khí-ke to establish one’s home, family, or business
sing- sacrificed animals or meat dishes made as offerings to gods or spirits
uân-á meat balls
hî-uân fish balls
hê-uân shrimp balls
thuân-înn getting together or having a reunion
Tsio lí lâi tsia̍h ōng. a saying comprised of the fruits commonly used as offerings: “kin-tsio” (banana), “lí-á”(plum), “lâi-á” (pear), “kam-tsià” (sugar cane), and “ông-lâi” (pineapple), which is a homophone to “may prosperity and good fortune come to you”.
kiat-á kumquats
Tāi-kiat tāi-lī. an expression meaning “great luck, great profit”
pài-pài worship; religious rituals which often include making offerings to ancestors and Gods and burning incense
tē-ki-tsú the House God
teh-nî ê âng-pau the New Year’s red envelope

Culture note: the practice of older generations giving out red envelopes with money to younger generations on New Year’s Eve or during the New Year’s holidays. Often simply called “âng-pau”.

pau âng-pau to wrap and give out red envelopes
pau to wrap (up)
pàng phàu-á to set off firecrackers

*Syllables that have been greyed out require tone changes.

We wish everyone a prosperous New Year and endless good luck:

Kiong-huat-tsâi, tsiok ta̍k-ke hó-ūn it-ti̍t lâi!

For more about the lunar New Year, go check out our downloadable workbook! You’ll also find additional vocabulary with characters, pronunciation notes, grammar explanations, culture tips, and fun exercises to help your practice.


Music Credit: TeknoAXE

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