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China is a great country for a flower grower

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It’s almost the 20th of May. An ordinary day you may think, but not in China. 20 May, or May 20, as they say in China, is like a Chinese Valentine’s Day. What’s the origin of this? Well, it has everything to do with the way it sounds.

‘5, 2, 0’ is ‘wu, er, ling’ in Chinese. Which sounds a bit like ‘wo ei ni’. And that means: ‘I love you’. If you say the date a couple of times in a row, it sounds pretty much the same as ‘I love you’. And that’s what it’s all about. The Chinese love numbers with hidden messages. Don’t forget though, the numbers must be pronounced separately, so: ‘five, two, zero’ and not ‘five, twenty’ or ‘five hundred twenty’ and never confuse it with 250!

Because, perhaps not completely surprising, two hundred fifty pronounced in Chinese has a special meaning, too. 250 pronounced in Chinese sounds like ‘erbaiwu’ and ‘2,5,0’ like ‘er, wu, ling’, which is a common way to call someone an idiot or a stupid person. Not something you want to say to your girlfriend on 20 May!

‘5,2,0’ on the other hand, has always been used as a code to tell someone you love them, but the use has become even more frequent in the current Internet Age. That’s how they came up with ‘Lovers’ Day’. Pretty much the same idea as ‘Singles’ Day’ (11 November or 11-11): four ones. So, if you’re not careful, and you say ‘2,5,0’ to your girlfriend instead of ‘5,2,0’, the 11th of November will become your day.

On the 20th of May, lovers are expected to buy each other a gift. Preferably flowers of course; the most beautiful thing you can give a woman, after all. You could add a diamond, but even flowers alone are always a hit.

The 20th of May has basically become the second Valentine’s Day of the year. The second of a total of three. The first one is on the 14th of February, like in the rest of the world. The second one is on the 20th of May and the third one is on the 7th of July. The latter is the traditional Chinese ‘Lovers’ Day’, according to the Lunar Calendar.

Isn’t China a great country for a flower grower? Three Valentine’s Days per year!

Cok Harteveld,

General manager Van den berg Roses, China

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