With Chinese New Year just around the corner, many people already have their ‘holiday’ moods turned on for this festive season. Not to mention, you probably have heard many CNY songs in shopping malls by now. It’s either you love listening to them or hate hearing the same instruments over and over again.
Whether you understand Mandarin or not, surely you’ve come across this classic song ‘Gong Xi Gong Xi’ every single CNY without fail. After all, this song is so jolly and cheerful because the lyrics are all about congratulations and good wishes to everyone.
But did you know, this song is originally NOT meant to celebrate CNY??
The song NEVER mentioned about Chinese New Year
Based on the lyrics, they have mentioned the welcome of spring for several times. For instance, this line “温暖的春风，就要吹醒大地” translates to “the warm spring breeze will wake up the earth”, and the line “盼望春的消息” means “looking forward to the news of spring”.
It may seem a little ambiguous, but the lyrics do not mention a single thing about Chinese New Year.
People have mistaken this song as the welcome of spring because Chinese New Year is usually referred to as the the Spring Festival.
The song was dated back in 1945 when China won the Second Sino-Japanese War (WW2)
According to Britannica, the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937 when China began a full-scale resistance against the Japanese influence and its expansion in its territory. During the period, the Nanjing Massacre (also known as Nanking Massacre) had taken place, killing as many as 300,000 Chinese civilians and surrendered troops in just a matter of weeks. On top of the massacre, the Japanese commander Matsui Iwane had ordered to rape tens of thousands of women.
Source: All That’s Interesting
A newspaper describing “The Contest To Cut Down 100 People” — a brutal competition in which two Japanese soldiers challenged one another to massacre as many people as possible.
In the twist of events, China received help from the outside towards the end of the war period. Additionally, Japan had finally surrendered on 2nd September 1945 after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Although ‘gong xi’ means congratulations, but the origin of the song, which is composed by Chen Gexin in 1945, was actually meant to celebrate the liberation of China and the defeat of Japan at the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
The use of minor key in the song
Chen Gexin was a famous Chinese music songwriter and composer. During the war period, he was jailed by the Imperial Japanese Army for composing patriotic songs.
After enduring all the hardships and torture, China had won the war and so he composed the song ‘Gong Xi Gong Xi’. Some say the tune he used in the song is minor key because it normally represents sorrow and loneliness as it was used as a memorial to the soldiers and people sacrificed in the war, as reported by The Star.
Instead of the joyous loud instruments, just listen to this original version:
Chen also produced other popular pieces including ‘Rose, Rose, I Love You’, ‘Shanghai Nights’ and ‘The Blossom of Youth’.
How it became a CNY festive song
The song was also released during the spring, which (as previously mentioned) many people mistaken it as the welcoming of Chinese New Year. Moreover, the lyrics in the song mention several times about the welcoming of the spring and hence, people have revised the tune of the song into a more upbeat and joyful one.
Although the song has some dark history, nonetheless, the lyrics are about good wishes and congratulations. With a little twist of the tune and viola! Here comes the CNY song that actually originated from celebrating the days post-war! Who knew!
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