Chinese Classic Poem: New Year’s Day 元日


In this post, we are going to appreciate a famous poem 元日 ( yuán rì ) New Year’s Day written by 王安石 ( wáng ān shí ). 王安石 was a very accomplished man during his time. He was a famous writer, scholar and politician.

It was said, when 王安石 wrote this poem 元日, he was a prime minister with an ambition to change the country in crisis by carrying out new rules. No wonder, even today, from this poem, we can still feel the poet’s  optimistic spirit.

Now let’s appreciate this poem.

爆竹声中一岁除,春风送暖入屠苏。
千门万户曈曈日,总把新桃换旧符。

At the beginning, the poet described a joyful new year eve scene: 爆竹声中一岁除 ( bào zhú shēng zhōng yí sùi chú ). 爆竹: firecracker; 声: sound; 中: among, in; 一: one; 岁: year, age; 除: gone, divide.

It means: Another year is gone with the sound of the firecrackers.

By the way, lighting firecrackers is Chinese tradition to celebrate the new year. If you wish to know more about Chinese new year tradition, please read this post: Chinese New Year Traditions — How Much Do You Know and How My Family Celebrated Chinese New Year .

春风送暖入屠苏 ( chūn fēng sòng nuǎn rù tú sū ). 春风: spring wind; 送: send; 暖: warmth, warm; 入: into; 屠苏: in this poem, it means the name for a type of wine.

It means: Spring is coming, we can feel the warm wind. It is the time to drink tu su wine.

千门万户曈曈日 ( qiān mén wàn hù tóng tóng rì ) 千: thousand; 门: door; 万: ten thousand; 户: household; 曈曈: bright; 日: day.

It means: On this bright new year’s day, thousands of families are busy.

总把新桃换旧符 ( zǒng bǎ xīn táo huàn jìu fú ) 总: always; 把: have, has, get; 新: new; 桃: peach, in this poem it means new year scroll, new year couplet; 换: change; 旧: old; 符: sign, in this poem it has the same meaning as the 桃, which means new year scroll, new year couplet.

Actually,  桃符 has the meaning of “new year scroll”, “new year couplet”. In this poem, the poet split the word “桃符”.

This sentence means: Every family are busy with changing the old scrolls and put up the new one.

After you read this poem, do you “see” a joyful new year scene? Do you hear the noisy firecrackers sound? Do you feel the poet’s joyful feeling and optimistic wish for a brand new and bright coming future? I am sure many readers will say “yes”!

No wonder this poem was popular. Almost every educated Chinese knows this poem.

Guess what, if you wish to give your child a beautiful name with good meaning, “曈曈” from this poem is really a good choice. In my opinion, it is a very nice name for a girl.  “曈曈” or “曈”, either one is a good choice. Which parent doesn’t like a bright child?

If you are a non-Chinese and wish to have a Chinese name for yourself or your child, please read this post: How to Choose a Nice Chinese Name .

If you wish to learn more posts about Chinese classic poems and literature, please read the culture section to learn more.

Now let’s watch the below video to read along with me. I hope you get the beauty of this poem.

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