Parents of Chongqing Zishui Middle School students wear qipao to express their good luck to examinees. (Photo/China News Service)
(ECNS) -- China's 2021 college entrance exam, better known as the gaokao, started on Monday, so parents and teachers across China are encouraging students in a variety of ways.
Parents are wearing qipao, or cheongsam, holding sunflowers and wearing face masks with Chinese characters to express good luck to examinees.
Qi in qipao is the same as in “qi kai de sheng," a Chinese idiom which means "to achieve success at the first try." A sunflower is called "xiang ri kui” in Chinese, with "kui" being homophonic to the expression "yi ju duo kui,” meaning "to take the first place." Parents and teachers take full advantage of the homophonic culture of Chinese traditions to send their best wishes.
Some examinees wear clothes with auspicious patterns such as koi fish, which represents good luck or other Chinese idioms conveying good wishes.
Some high schools also held activities to help students relieve stress before the exam. Teachers tie red ribbons for examinees to send best wishes, and hand out red packets, cakes and zongzi (glutinous rice dumplings) whose zong sounds like zhong in Chinese, referring to entering the ideal university. Examinees also tie red headbands on each other to send blessings.