Today, April 20, is Chinese Language Day
The United Nations ensures celebration of language days to promote cultural diversity and the equal use of all of its six official languages throughout the organisation. Chinese is one of those six languages and every year on April 20, the UN and its offices around the world observe Chinese Language Day.
April 20 was picked as the Chinese day from Guyu ('Rain of Millet') which is the sixth of 24 solar terms in traditional calendars of East Asia to pay tribute to Cangjie, a personality from ancient China who was known to be an official historian of the Yellow Emperor and inventor of Chinese characters. Legend says Cangjie had four eyes and as many pupils. It is said when he invented the characters, the sky remained millet. Since then, the Chinese people celebrate Guyu in the honour of Cangjie.
Chinese was accepted as an official language at the UN in 1946. Though its use was limited in the early decades, it was after the lawful rights of the People's Republic of China got restored in 1971 that its usage improved.
In 1973, Chinese was included as a working language in the UN General Assembly and the next year, in the Security Council.
For the records, the first Chinese Language Day at the UN was celebrated on November 12, 2010. The date was shifted to April 20 from 2011 onwards.
On this day, the contribution of Chinese poetry, language and literature to world culture is celebrated. The UN and its affiliated bodies organise events to highlight the cultural history and significance of the Chinese language, the most spoken in the world.
Workshops and seminars are held featuring Chinese scholars, litterateurs and other prominent personalities. Chinese music concerts, martial arts performances and exhibitions of calligraphy are also held.
Besides Chinese, the UN also celebrates French Language Day on March 20; English Language Day on April 23; Russian Language Day on June 6; Spanish Language Day on October 12 and Arabic Language Day on December 18.