Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day 6: Olympic symbols.

Today is a day where I planned to learn something. During my lunch break I attended a "lunch and learn" session that discussed the culture of China, specifically related to Beijing and the upcoming Olympics. I wanted to attend because I am seeking out interesting and new opportunities, as well, I thought this would help me with my career as I've recently been doing a lot of work with our offices in China and working to create a plan to communicate to the people of China. I came across a lot of new information from that session that I found in intriguing and I think you will too.

So, Friday at 8:00 p.m. is the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympic games. 8:00 p.m. on August 8, 2008. 8 p.m. on 8/8/08. In today's session, I learned that this date was selected especially because the number 8 is very symbolic and meaningful to Chinese culture. "Eight" is pronounced as "bah" which is very similar to the pronunciation of the word that means "to make a fortune"... hence, why "eight" is an auspicious number for the Chinese and the Olympics are beginning on a day that consists of all 8s.

This is the Olympic emblem. Looks pretty, right? But did you know that it was designed very carefully and that everything means something. Well, the rings, of course, we all have seen that before. And above that "Beijing 2008" written to look like traditional Chinese characters. Above that, the red emblem is very significant. I learned that red is the most favorable color for Chinese people. It symbols happiness and luck. I probably would have chosen to associate the color red with the country of China before today's lunch because of their flag and the whole fack that it is a Communist Nation, but I didn't realize what the color symbolized.

The white shape in the middle of the red emblem means a few different things. First, it clearly is shaped like a person. A person in motion. You can interpret this person to be a participating in a sport, running, or dancing. Either way, it is a person in motion and that is supposed to symbolize the energy of human beings. The figure has wide open arms to represent the openness and welcoming of the Chinese people into their country. The design was also created to reflect the second character that makes up the Chinese symbol for the word "Beijing". Neat, huh?

The slogan for the 2008 Summer Olympics is "One World One Dream". That is a pretty literal translation and the meaning is pretty obvious, but the official Web site says that:

"'One World, One Dream' expresses the common wishes of people all over the world, inspired by the Olympic ideals, to strive for a bright future of Mankind. In spire of the different in colors, languages, and races, we share the charm and joy of the Olympic games, and together we seek for the ideal of Mankind for peace. We belong to the same world and we share the same aspirations and dreams."
We also learned about the mascots of the Olympics:

I've read a few blogs that have completely dissed this years mascots and I have felt sentiments agreeing towards that until today when I learned about how much they represent and symbolize. The mascots are titled "Fuwa" which means "lucky children" in the Chinese language. What is most noticeable is their color and the fact that each Fuwa is the color of one of the Olympic rings. What I would have never known without attending today's lecture is that each Fuwa represents one of the most sacred animals AND one of the sacred elements of nature in Chinese culture, with the exception of the center, red, Fuwa which stands for the torch/flame which has always been the eternal symbol of the Olympic games.

The blue Fuwa stands for the fish and represents the sea. The Black Fuwa stands for the panda bear and represents the forest, or wood. As I said, the red Fuwa represents the torch/flame/fire. The Orange Fuwa stands for the antelope and represents earth. The green Fuwa stands for the swallow and represents sky.

Each Fuwa also has a carefully selected name that consists of a repeating two-syllable word. Repeating a shorter name in this way is the traditional way of showing affection towards children. From left to right, the Fuwa's indivual names are Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying, and Nini. If you take the single syllable core from each of these names and combine them to "Bei jing huan ying ni" it means "Welcome to Beijing!"

I was really excited to learn all of this because in the next few weeks these symbols, slogans, and mascots are going to be seen EVERYWHERE and it is really nice to know the background of how these things originated. I love the Olympic games and I always have. Learning this new information has made the 2008 Summer Olympics even more beautiful and intriguing to me and I can't wait for them to get started on Friday!

I hope that this was some new/interesting information for you and hopefully you can wow some people as you're watching the games on television by casually dropping a fact you learned here into conversation!

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