Double 11th Day

Double 11th Day (the 11th of November), more widely known as Chinese Singles’ Day, was invented by some young Chinese college students in the early 90s, who were singles longing for love and affection to end their bachelor’s (pun. single/degree) life before their graduation. However, it has now been switched to the commercial side of it – shopping. More and more businesses have started their marketising of the Day as an important occasion of selling their products and service.

Queen’s alumnus, LU Yi (卢艺), BSc in Accounting (2011-2014), has shared his thoughts on the changing phenomenon of the Double 11th Day celebrations

What I feel about this day is that actually it is not just one day of crazy selling and buying. It’s a season which has started as early as the beginning of November when one could feel the air of massive advertising and promotion. People have already started placing orders in order to secure the Double 11th Day discounts and pay in full by that day.

However, I think that the original sense of celebrating the Double 11th Day has received less attention, probably because nowadays young people start to fall in love earlier than people did in the past. In addition, I think it also reflects the changing social attitude towards those who choose to remain single, from being opposing to becoming tolerant and accepting. More and more young people would agree with the social phenomenon that being alone is their freedom, a decision they want to make for themselves rather than following traditional family value and surrendering to social pressure.

So, how did LU Yi spend his Double 11th Day this year?

The timer LU Yi set for remembering the phenomenal moment

Well, haha, I’ve got married at the beginning of this year so I’m no longer a bachelor – no need to celebrate. But I did place a couple of orders to buy something useful – a pair of trainers for badminton play, a down jacket to keep me warm during winter, and a set of earphones, altogether having a discount of 20%. That’s it.

All images belong to LU Yi.

Related reading

Queen’s Chinese alumni, what did you buy for Double 11th Day? And Chinese students at Queen’s, what are you going to order for the Black Friday and Christmas shopping overall? Tell us by leaving your comments below!

Happy Double Ninth Day

This year the Double Ninth Day, or 重阳节 (Chóngyángjié) in Chinese, falls on 4th October. It is traditionally an occasion for showing respect to the elderly or ancestors, as well as attaching special importance to families. One of the customary cultures of practice is to climb a hill to a high place (爬山登高 pá shān dēng gāo) and think of their departing family members with good wishes.

In contemporary times it is an occasion for outdoor exercising (户外运动 hùwài yùndòng) such as excursion (远足 yuǎn zú). In Belfast, the Cave Hill is such a great outdoor site for both local and international residents to go hiking. The photos below are from Ziqing Wei (魏子晴), a postgraduate in interpreting, who recently went out with her friends to climb the Cave Hill for fun.

‘远离城市的浮躁和喧嚣,感受大自然,在山顶眺望远方海天相接处,享受内心的宁静。’

Translation: It’s great to be able to distance myself from the hustle and bustle of the urban life and to appreciate the peace of mind when I can embrace the nature, looking afar from the top of the Hill until the end where the sky and the sea disappear into thin air.

Chinese course enrolment and call for volunteers

With the approaching of the new semester we are pleased to announce that the Language Centre course enrolment starts at 00:30 on Thursday 1st September. We offer over 80 classes in 14 different languages, including Chinese, that have both online and in person teaching. All classes will commence week beginning Monday 10 Oct 2022.

Online registration will be closed on Thursday 6 Oct and we welcome all to make an early registration as courses are extremely popular and fill up quickly.

Class schedule and registration links are accessible via Language Centre website.

Chinese language courses are offered from level 1 to level 5.

Call for volunteers

We are looking for talented students and staff members to volunteer for our Chinese language and cultural events at Queen’s. It could be in the form of a variety of cultural performances, or language/culture-related topics and skills, and is open to both Chinese-speaking and non-Chinese speaking volunteers.

We look forward to working with you in our future events.

Read the Chinese version here.

When The Teachers’ Day Meets Mid-Autumn Festival

Following the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, we think that it is appropriate and respectful to postpone our Mid-Autumn Festival celebration event. The event will be rescheduled and a further notice will be made soon.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a great occasion for family reunion in the Chinese culture, and we hope that you will join us in sending our condolences to the Royal Family on the loss of their most important family member.

Photo: The Lanyon Building with QUB flag flying at half-mast | ©LiangWANG

You may click to read QUB tribute in English and in Chinese.

It is so special that this year the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on today, Saturday 10th Sept, which coincides with the Teachers’ Day in China. Although we will not be able to get together in person to celebrate this double-festival day, we would like to send our warmest wishes to all who share this culture from QUB and elsewhere.

We have seen our students finding their ways of making mooncakes by themselves with passion and creativity. In the following video clip contributed by Qi SHUAI, you may find it interesting to see how mooncakes can be made by using local materials while she feels being distant (and homesick) from their home.

“去年中秋节的时候我还在家里收拾行囊准备开始我的留学之旅,而现在我已经出国一年了,离开父母整整一年了。中国有句古话“每逢佳节倍思亲”,自从出国开始,每次在异国他乡过中国传统节日时候总是更加认真也更加去认真过节。虽然很想念家里的亲人朋友,但也因为种种原因没有办法把回国列入档期。中秋节算是在中国人心中重要程度仅此于春节的传统节日,因为中秋的节日核心就是在月亮下和家人团团圆圆。但中国还有一句古话“明月千里寄相思”,离开家的我只能望月怀远,将寄明月,把想念化为一句句祝福和一块块月饼。”

(Translation: Last Mid-Autumn Festival I was still packing up at home for my overseas study and now it has been a year since I left my parents. As the Chinese saying goes, one would double-miss their family when it comes to festivals for reunion, I am always keen to celebrate the traditional Chinese festivals when I travel away from home. Once again, now I miss my family and friends so much, although I don’t know a date to return yet. The Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most important event after the Spring Festival to Chinese families, as the full and bright moon in autumn symbolises a great occasion for family reunion. However, as I’m at a distant place, I have to borrow another saying that one can only pass on thoughts to their beloved through sharing the full and bright moon. Hence, I look up and afar, praying that the Mid-Autumn moon will share my best wishes and my hand-made mooncakes to the people I love and care in China.)

We would also like to take this opportunity to send our best wishes to the faculties both in Queen’s and elsewhere for a very relaxing Chinese Teachers’ Day!

A photo of two frames with thank-you messages to teachers, a spider plant as decoration, taken in 2018 | ©LiangWANG

Well, then, did you know when the World Teachers’ Day is and if there are any special date for teachers in your culture? Please share with us in the comment box below.

For our Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations and Chinese Teachers’ Day posts in the past, you may wish to read the following entries:

Mid-Autumn Festival Celebrations

Happy September and happy Mid-Autumn Festival which arrives early, falling on Saturday 10th September this year. 中秋节快乐 (Zhōngqiūjié kuàilè)!

Following the successful rolling out of the iRise Social and Wellbeing Event – A Taste of Chinese Tea with Guzheng Music in July, we would like to invite you to join our Mid-Autumn Festival celebration with a cultural talk on its history and social impact, with a taste of mooncakes (赏月 shǎng yuè) and MIDI keyboard performance (赏乐 shǎng yuè) –

MIDI Keyboard with Roses
  • Organised by The Language Centre and BAME & International Staff Network, QUB
  • Presented by Dr Liang Wang, The Language Centre
  • Contributed by Kehan (可瀚), BSc candidate in Music and Audio Production, School of Arts, English and Languages

Date: Friday 23rd September 2022
Time: 15:30 – 17:00 
Venue: The Auditorium, McClay Library

Please note: Due to rescheduling we may have some limited spaces available. For colleagues who signed up for the event and still can attend, you don’t need to do it again. However, if you are no longer able to attend in-person, please email liang.wang[at]qub.ac.uk so that places can be made to others. Please register by 4.00pm on Thursday 22nd September.

Dragon Boat Racing

Happy Chinese Dragon Boat Festival! 龙舟节快乐!

The Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Festival (端午节 Duānwǔ jié), is a traditional Chinese festival with a history of over 2000 years. It occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month in Chinese lunar calendar, which falls on Friday 3rd June this year.

Duanwu Festival is widely known as Dragon Boat Festival (龙舟节 Lóngzhōu jié) to the rest of the world, as one of its celebrative events – dragon boat racing – has become so popular (受欢迎 shòu huānyíng) in the world.

Today, we would like to invite Dr YAO Xudan (姚旭丹) to introduce dragon boat racing and share with us her interesting experiences of joining in races when she was in Belfast and more recently in Manchester.

Image@LiangWANG

YAO Xudan (姚旭丹) studied her PhD in Queen’s University Belfast from 2014 to 2018. Afterwards, she joined the National Graphene Institute, University of Manchester, as a postdoctoral research associate. Currently, she is continuing her research in Queen Mary College, University of London.

Dragon Boat Racing in Belfast

When I was doing my PhD at Queen’s, I joined dragon boat racing as a paddler twice in 2015 and 2016, as a member of Team QUB, which were organised by Chinese Welfare Association NI. People from different professional backgrounds, including universities, associations, boat clubs, etc., signed up for the events with full enthusiasm. Chinese food was prepared and supplied to all participants. Although we did not win in the end, everyone enjoyed the teamwork spirit (团队精神 tuánduì jīngshén) during racing, despite the bad weather. My colleagues from Spain and India were so excited that they wanted very much to follow up celebrations as such in the future. I believe that our traditional culture (传统文化 chuántǒng wénhuà) could be shared and accepted widely in this engaging way.

Dragon Boat Racing in Manchester

On 29th May 2022, the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival was held in Manchester, with 36 teams from universities, companies and institutions participating in the competition. With my previous experience of Belfast races I joined one of the University of Manchester teams, which was formed by all girls. The morning was a bit wet but fortunately it became sunny during the race. Again, although we could not enter into the final competition (决赛 juésài), we were satisfied with our great team performance and enjoyed ourselves. Apart from the racing, the festival also included Chinese kung fu performance (功夫表演 gōngfu biǎoyǎn), singing (唱歌 chànggē), dancing (跳舞 tiàowǔ) and tasting (品尝 pǐncháng) traditional Chinese food such as zongzi (粽子 zòngzi), baozi (包子 bāozi), marinated eggs (卤蛋 lǔdàn), making it an exciting and fun experience.

Overall, dragon boat racing is really one of the wonderful occasions for people to get together and celebrate our traditional festival, as well as to enhance intercultural communication and understanding between people of different communities.

About dragon boat racing

Dragon boats are human-powered watercrafts originally made of wood, and in modern times upgraded into carbon or glass fibre composites, as well as other lightweight materials. They are universally decorated with a Chinese dragon head and tail. For racing, a standard dragon boat typically consists of 20 paddlers, one drummer facing toward the paddlers, and one steerer. However, there are also small boats with a capacity of 10 paddlers.

Image@XudanYao

Author: YAO Xudan
Editors: Martin Duffy and WANG Liang

Have you joined any boat racing events before? You are very welcome to share your experience by using the comment box below.

More to read

Here are posts about our past celebrations of Dragon Boat Festival, if you are interested in getting to know more about our celebrations at Queen’s.

QUB boat racing event

After a 3 year absence the 16th annual Queen’s University Belfast Boat Race will take place next month, with Queen’s men and women rowers taking on Trinity College Dublin on Saturday 11 June 2022. As well as the main event there will also be junior races involving local schools racing over the 2km course.

For more information click QUB Event page.

World Baking Day

Various parts of the world choose different dates for World Baking Day, e.g., the two most common dates are the 15th or 17th of May. For baking lovers what matters the date is less relevant than the opportunity for baking lovers to please themselves and their family, friends and neighbours.

Today, we invite Xiuying DENG (also see Eggcellent Easter) to share with us her experience of baking a Basque cheesecake, which is a type of cheesecake with a strong burnished flavour. The Basque cheesecake is baked until the outside of the cake is charred. It is named after the region’s name, the Basque in Spain.

As a foodie with sweet tooth, I tried to learn to bake Basque cake quite a while ago. The first attempt was so successful and the entire process didn’t take much time. I really found it enjoyable and full of confidence for the next one.

– Xiuying deng

Well, here is the way of how to make a Basque cheesecake with only a few required ingredients. At a grocery store or supermarket, one can easily find and buy the following items:

  • granulated sugar (白砂糖 bái shā táng)
  • Greek style yogurt (希腊酸奶 Xīlà suānnǎi)
  • fresh whipping cream (新鲜淡奶油 xīnxiān dàn nǎiyóu)
  • cornflour (玉米淀粉 yùmǐ diànfěn)
  • cream cheese (奶油奶酪 nǎiyóu nǎilào)
  • eggs (蛋 dàn)
Image@XiuyingDENG

Required ingredients: cream cheese 250g, fresh whipping cream 150g, yogurt 200g, two eggs, sugar 55g and cornflour 10g.

When all these items are ready, just get started. The following is the process of making a Basque cheesecake. Let’s go –

Step 1: Add cream cheese, yogurt and two eggs in a bowl and stir them well.

Image@XiuyingDENG

Step 2: After stirring evenly, add some sugar and cornflour in the same bowl.

Image@XiuyingDENG

Step 3: Pour the mixed paste into the mold, and put it into the preheated oven (turn the oven to 180 degrees and bake for 20 minutes; then turn it up to 200 degrees, bake for another 10 minutes.)

Image@XiuyingDENG

Step 4: Cool the baked cake and put it in the fridge for 4 hours.

Image@XiuyingDENG

Step 5: Use your creative mind to decorate it.

Image@XiuyingDENG

The above is the process of making Basque cake. Finally, remember to take nice photos of the presentation so that you can have your cake and eat it. I hope you all can manage to create delicious cakes!

Author: Xiuying DENG, MA candidate in Marketing, Queen’s Management School
Editor: Martin Duffy, MA candidate in Irish Studies with a focus on Public History at the Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University Belfast.

Eggcellent Easter

Happy Easter Break! 复活节假期快乐!

Did you buy some eggs or egg-shaped chocolate for Easter? They look so cute and tasty that one can hardly resist the temptation not to buy one.

Chocolate eggs in a supermarket. Image@LiangWANG

But why it has to be eggs or egg-shaped thing during Easter? Here’s the explanation:

‘The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century, according to some sources. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration.’

History

Besides buying ready-made egg decorations from shops, painting eggs is one of the most popular activities for not only those families with young children, but also others who want to have creative experience with lots of fun during Easter. International student ambassadors from Queen’s recently joined an egg decorating event, organised by AHSS (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences), to celebrate their Easter on campus.

Key words in Chinese

  • 复活节 (Fùhuó jié) – Easter
  • 装饰 (zhuāngshì) – to decorate
  • 绘画 (huìhuà) – to paint
  • 彩绘 (cǎihuì) – colour painting
  • 蛋 (dàn) – egg
  • 巧克力 (qiǎokèlì) – chocolate

How did it go? We invite one of the International Student Ambassadors, Xiuying, to share her experience with you.

Xiuying DENG is currently a postgraduate student in Marketing from Queen’s University Management School. Images@XiuyingDENG

I was so lucky to be invited and it was such an amazing experience! Drawing is not my strong point at all, to be honest, so I felt a bit nervous before getting started. Here I chose to paint a chick at first, which is really out of the ordinary with different colors because it wore a pair of glasses HAHA! Then, I “dressed up” three plastic eggs. As you can see, some were with colored ribbons and some were with small spots.

At the end of the event, we all voted together to see which was the best. Fortunately, I was awarded a souvenir by Queen’s. I felt that my drawing was not that bad. Anyway, it was an unforgettable experience for me to celebrate Easter in the UK, especially with the cohort of 10 lovely student ambassadors!

We hope you have had fun together with us. If you have done your own egg paintings or other decorations, you are very welcome to share your photos here for a collection of ‘eggcellent’ show.

Celebrating Chinese Language Day

联合国中文节快乐!(Liánhé Guó Zhōngwén jié kuàilè) Happy UN Chinese Language Day!

The Chinese language is one of the six official languages used in the United Nations and together with Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish, each of them is designated with a date to ‘celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six official languages throughout the Organization’.

Celebrating Chinese Language Day at Queen’s, Image@LiangWang

On Wednesday 13th April, just before the university’s Easter closure, The Language Centre organised a small-scale celebration with students – both Chinese and non-Chinese – at the McClay Library, Queen’s University Belfast. This is the first on-campus in-person Chinese event after a two-year-long isolation working from home.

Small but highly interactive with lots of fun, the cohort not only learned about the culture of this special day, but also explored a range of Chinese language resources and platforms in support of intercultural language learning both online and in physical settings.

The third semester language course enrolment remains open until Thursday 21st April. Check Mandarin Chinese course page for more details.

– With Kristoff, Sijie, Guangyan and Jiaqi (from left to right), Image@LiangWang

Call for participation –

  • Event 1 – We would like to hear your interesting stories about experience of using Chinese language in an intercultural context. This can be a Chinese-speaking person helping their international friends or learners of Chinese with the language, in which a misunderstanding or miscommunication took place, or a learner of Chinese encountering various situations when Chinese language was used in a creative but funny way.
  • Event 2Chinese and Irish Traditional Music – The Language of The Sound. We warmly welcome you, especially QUB students, to attend the student-led event at Queen’s on Saturday 28/05. Details and registration information will be published soon.
  • Event 3 – We are inviting volunteers to contribute to the Duanwu Festival (Friday 03/06) celebration in a variety of ways. It can be a culture workshop, performance, demo, talent show, photo or short video of your cultural celebration etc., as long as they are interactive and engaging.
  • Regular eventsChinese Culture Forum 2022. While we will do our best to arrange the sessions on topics or issues of potential interest, we are open to suggestions and proposals from you – whether you are a Queen’s staff member, or a student, or a visiting scholar, or a professional from the outside.

You are all welcome to contact us by filling the Reply box (background, proposed topic, ways of delivery, availability, etc.)

Longtaitou Festival

What’s Longtaitou Festival?

The traditional Chinese Longtaitou (龙抬头 Lóng tái tóu) Festival, or Dragon-Head-Raising Festival, falls on the second day of the second lunar month every year, and recognises the start of spring and farming. This year it falls on 4th March.

Dragon Dance at the Chinese New Year Celebrations at Queen’s in 2020

In Chinese mythology, 龙 (Chinese dragon or coined as Loong), with its connotations for good luck and supreme power, is also the god managing weather and water, bring rainfalls for crops to grow and harvest. So this Longtaitou Festival is mainly about praying for good weather in spring with good rainfalls, the key time for plowing the fields.

Learning Chinese language and culture at Queen’s

3rd Semester Language Course Registration is open and closes promptly at 17:00 on Thursday 21 April 2022. Classes are expected to be extremely popular and fill up quickly, so early registration is strongly recommended.

To register with a Mandarin Chinese course, please follow the course information page for more information with links to registrations.