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Xue Hua Piao Piao refers to the romanization of the Chinese phrase “雪花飘飘”, which literally means “snow flakes float”. It comes from a Chinese song called Yi Jian Mei (一剪梅). It became viral after a video of Chinese man singing the song in the snow appeared on YouTube and sparked multiple spinoffs.
The meme has since evolved and developed its own meaning and usage. Now people are using it to express not just sadness, helplessness and desperation, but also a “whatever”, “it is what it is” or “I give up” attitude.
It all started with a Chinese man, with a perfectly bald and shiny egg-shaped head, singing a mysteriously captivating song while standing in the middle of the snow.
On January 6th, Zhang Aiqin, aka Egg Man or Egg Bro, uploaded a video clip of him singing the Chinese song “Yijianmei” to Kuaishou, a Chinese video-sharing platform similar to Tiktok. Then, Youtuber Buhj uploaded the video named “Chinese man in da snow” to Youtube.
The video started getting noticed by YouTube and TikTok users, and spinoffs and remixes of the video appeared. Ever since then, the keyword “Xue Hua Piao Piao”, which is the main lyric of the song, has surged in search volume, according to Google Trends.
As with all viral memes and videos, there are several reasons why this video attracted so much attention.
At the very beginning, the impression of a man with a perfectly egg-shaped head in the snow was just too funny to ignore.
Then he started singing something foreign, yet somehow catchy. That’s when people started to get curious about the words coming out of his mouth. As it turns out, the lyric was about “snow” and “winter”, related to the background.
Despite the snowy background, Egg Man, with his comical appearance, seems very relaxed and jolly whilst singing a sad song about winter. His singing has seemingly lightened up the mood for thousands that are otherwise quite frustrated by COVID19, the lockdown and economic downturn.
Especially for those living in cold, wintery countries like Norway, “Yi Jian Mei”, the song Egg Man was singing, has topped the Spotify viral 50 chart in Norway, Finland and New Zealand and ranked 2nd place in Sweden.
On a phonetic level, the sound of “piao piao” and “xiao xiao” may have amused the ears of those who are new to the Chinese language. Like hocus-pocus, hotch-potch and chit-chat, “piao piao” and “xiao xiao” are two words created by reduplicating the same Chinese characters. Repeating the same Chinese character to create a word is called “AA” reduplication if you’re interested in learning Chinese. That is probably why “Xue Hua Piao Piao Bei Feng Xiao Xiao” sounds so rhythmic and is easy to imitate.
Xue Hua Piao Piao Lyrics, Translation and Chinese Culture
The words “Xue Hua Piao Piao, Bei Feng Xiao Xiao” comes from Chinese popular singer Fei Yu-ching’s most popular song, Yi Jian Mei / 一剪梅. But this song is way more sophisticated than just a pop song.
Obsession with the plum flowers
“Yi Jian Mei / 一剪梅” literally meaning “one cut plum” is not just about “one branch of plum blossom”. In classical Chinese literature, the plum flower is frequently used as a metaphor for tenacious, determined individuals.
“Xue Hua Piao Piao Bei Feng Xiao Xiao” means “The snow falls and the Northern wind blows.” It describes the harsh environment in which the plum thrives.
Let’s take a look at the main chorus:
Rhyme schemes in Chinese poetry
The word “Yi Jian Mei” actually has a second meaning.
It is the name of a specific rhyme scheme for composing Chinese poems. In simple English, a rhyme scheme for a Chinese poem regulates the number of lines, the number of characters and the tones of the characters. Yi Jian Mei is a very common rhyme scheme for composing poems.
So unsurprisingly, the catchy nature of “Xue Hua Piao Piao Bei Feng Xiao Xiao” owes to the fact that it’s ordered in a classical Chinese rhyme scheme.
While many Chinese netizens credit Fei Yuqing, the Taiwanese singer who sang the song, for the success of a Chinese song breaking into western pop culture, we Chinese teachers at LingoDeer think the magic at work here is the transcending power of classical Chinese poetry.
Chinese is not as difficult as you think, right? By learning Xue Hua Piao Piao, you already speak Chinese!
The pronunciation of the consonant “x”, as represented with Chinese pinyin, has always been a difficulty for learners. Now it seems that this problem can be easily solved by a song!
Why not take your Chinese to the next level and start expressing yourself in Chinese?
LingoDeer offers structured lessons on Chinese grammar and vocabulary that can be learned on the phone in 20 minutes. You can try a free lesson out right now by clicking here.
An interview with LingoDeer user Justin on time management, career choices and learning Chinese
Different Versions of Xue Hua Piao Piao