Cold and Crunchy or Silky and Shiny? How to Wax Lyrical About Snow in Mandarin

快3开奖结果查询Beijing has been particularly snowy this winter, with two heavy dustings that have rendered the crowded and noisy city almost unrecognizable under a fluffy white coat.

Snowfalls also?signal the beginning of another important event: the unofficial?social media photo contest. Whether you're shooting?the scarlet walls of?the Forbidden City capped in white, or the snowman you built with your friends, everyone's trying to nail that perfect snow shot. But pictures are just half the story, and if you really want to elevate your 朋友圈 péng yǒu quān快3开奖结果查询 (Wechat Moments), you need to level up your vocabulary game as well, because in this competitive environment, a simple #雪 just isn't going to cut it.

First, let's learn to distinguish your bog-standard? xuě?snow from other varieties:?

  • xiàn?- Graupel, soft hail, or snow pellets: These occur when supercooled water droplets attach to falling snowflakes and usually drop?faster, appearing before the actual snow. (Not to be confused with sleet, which is precipitation which freezes before it reaches the ground.)
  • 霧凇 wù sōng?- Hoarfrost or rime: Molecules of water vapor that attach to a?cold surface and crystalize, such as on a tree or shrub.

Next, if you really want to impress your friends, you need to get poetic. Luckily?for you, China is famous for its poetry and boasts generations of poets who have turned their?attention to the cold, fluffy stuff. In traditional Chinese poetry (just like in English) simile is fairly common. Also, because lines in poetry are usually limited to five to seven?characters, descriptions need to be concise and short. Therefore, there already exist many social media-ready poetic words?and phrases?that Chinese people have used over the ages to describe snow. We've divided them into some common themes.?


With its white color and cold, translucent texture, snow has long been associated with white jade in China. As well as being one of the country's favorite ornaments, people also believe that it represents purity, dignity, and royalty.?

  • 玉沙 yù shā?- Jade sand: The fine, powdery snow that looks like shavings or sand from jade.
  • 碎瓊 suì qióng -?Scattered jade:?Inspired by the color and the sound when you step in snow.
  • 玉樹瓊枝 yù shù qióng zhī?- The jade branches on the jade tree: Used to describe?trees covered in?snow.


  • 積素 jī sù?- Piled-up silk: Used to describe?snow that has accumulated on the ground.
  • 銀裝素裹 yín zhuāng sù guǒ?- Dress in silver silk: Describes a?scene in which?the entire world seems to be?covered with snow.


  • 六出 liù chū?- Six-petal?flower: 出 chū means petal in ancient Chinese, and it's easy to see how a snowflake may be likened to a six-petal flower.
  • 璇花 xuán huā -?Crystal flower: A fairly straightforward but beautiful way to describe a single snowflake.?

Other words?used?to describe a snowy?scene

  • 寒酥 hán sū?- Cold and crunchy: A way to describe snow's texture.
  • 漫天飛雪 màn tiān fēi xuě?- Flying snow covered the entire sky:?Used to express how big a?snow flurry is.
  • 白雪皚皚 báixuě ái’ái?- The snow is white and shiny:?Used particularly in regard to?snow that is heavy enough to cover the ground.
  • 鵝毛大雪 é máo dà xuě?- The snowflake?falls?like a goose's feather: A way to describe the size of the snowflake.

Snow also has deeper?metaphysical?meanings in?Chinese culture, especially when it falls right before?Chinese New Year. The expression 瑞雪兆豐年 ruì xuě zhào fēng nián "Snow is a good omen for a prosperous year ahead,"?does not just embody a whimsical wish from ancient Chinese farmers for a good harvest but has scientific underpinnings:?snow that arrives at this critical moment will kill the eggs and the larva of?pests in waiting, and also?provide water for the crops once the spring arrives.

Even though the majority of us now live in?cities,?and may never have a chance to grow our own crops, it's still a beautiful sight to see snow fall on the eve of Chinese New Year. Now you'll be able to put the event in words.

READ:?Capturing the Forbidden City After the First Snowfall of the Year

Image: Uni You,?Shiguiren,?, Zeus Zou, Anna Pellegrin Hartley