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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in China Series at ChineseClass101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Chinese holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 22. April Fools' Day. In Chinese, it’s called 愚人节 (yúrén jié).
April Fools’ Day is a holiday that falls on April 1 and originated in the West. Though younger Chinese populations have adopted the pranking customs of April Fool’s Day, the older generations are not fans of the holiday.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
愚人 (yúrén) is the word for fool, but does not always have a pejorative connotation. This is explained in the story of the Chinese fool par excellence. Do you know this tale?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Playing tricks or 开玩笑 (kāi wánxiào) is a common custom on April Fool's Day. For example, a person might tell somebody that someone is waiting for them somewhere, making that person worry and go to the location, only to find out it was a prank. As you can imagine, this sort of pranking is quite popular in schools; students love having a day designated for playing tricks on classmates and friends.
A classic April Fool’s Day prank is telling someone their shoelace is untied. Even if that person doesn’t have shoelaces, they almost always react to the statement by squatting to tie the shoelace or looking down to check. Other similar jokes include telling someone their wallet is gone, that water has been spilled on their desk, that their teacher requests a visit to the office, or that their boss wants to talk. Are these similar to popular pranks in your country?
Over the past decade, tricks played on April Fool's Day have increasingly been incorporated into the online world, or 网络世界 (wǎngluò shìjiè). Every year, trick websites that mess with their visitors emerge on April 1st. If you unknowingly click on a link to one of these sites, you‘ve been pranked! Sometimes it forces you to keep clicking for a few minutes just to close the web page, and in other cases it will annoyingly force your computer to restart on its own.
Because April Fools’ Day is all about pranks and jokes, some people use it as an opportunity to confess their love for someone. That way, if they get rejected, they can just shrug it off and say that it was a joke!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
愚人 (yúrén) is the word for fool, but does not always have a pejorative connotation. This is exemplified by the story of the Chinese fool par excellence. Do you know this tale?
“Old man Yu Gong who moved away to the mountains,” or 愚公移山 (yúgōngyíshān) is a well-known Chinese legend about a man who was unintimidated by seemingly unconquerable obstacles. He dug into the mountains persistently, hoping to eventually come out on the other side. This display of determination, even in the face of seemingly impossible odds, touched the Emperor of Heaven, who rewarded the old man by removing the mountains for him. “Old man Yu Gong who moved away to the mountains” is still passed on today as a tale that upholds the importance of persistence.
What did you think of this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
What are common pranks on April Fools’ Day in your country? Please leave a comment telling us at ChineseClass101.com, and I'll see you in our next lesson. Bye!