a little Olympic pride.....

Living in China, you cannot miss the 2008 Olympic excitement! Only 271 days until the games begin, and there is HUGE anticipation in the air!! To adequately prepare you for the 2008 Games, we'd love to share some meaning behind the 5 Mascots that you will begin to see everywhere...

FU 福 (happiness, wealth, good fortune) + WA 娃 (child)
The FUWA were designed to express the playful qualities of five little children who form an intimate circle of friends. They embody the characteristics of four of China's most popular animals - a fish, a panda, a Tibetan antelope, a swallow - plus the Olympic flame! Each character has a rhyming two-syllable name - (a sign of affection for kids), Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying, Nini - and when read together say "BeiJing HuanYing Ni" which means "Beijing Welcomes You!" - which is their goal as young ambassadors for the 2008 Olympic Games. They also embody the landscape, aspirations and well-wishes from the nation of China. In their origins and their headpieces, you can see the five elements of nature - the sea, forest, fire, earth and sky - all rendered in ways that represent the traditional influences of Chinese folk art and ornamentation. Their work is to unite the world in peace, friendship & harmony with the Olympic spirit.

Let us introduce to you these cute characters, each corresponding to one of the five colored Olympic rings.

Beibei - In China's rich culture of art, the fish symbolizes prosperity & harvest. Beibei carries this blessing of prosperity. A fish is also a symbol of surplus in Chinese culture, another measure of a good year and a good life. The ornamental lines of the water-wave designs are taken from well-known ancient paintings. Beibei is known to be gentle & pure. Strong in water sports, she reflects the blue Olympic ring.

Jingjing - a sweet panda to bring the blessing of happiness & harmony between mankind & nature. He has a charming naivety in his dance, and optimistic outlook on life. As a national treasure and a protected species, pandas are adored by people everywhere. The lotus designs in Jingjing's headdress, which are inspired by the porcelain paintings of the Song Dynasty (A.D.960-1234), symbolize the lush forest and the harmonious relationship between man & nature. Jingjing represents our desire to protect nature - and to preserve this gift for all generations. He is an athlete noted for strength who represents the black Olympic ring.

Huanhuan - A child of fire, representing the bright Olympic flame, is regarded as the older brother of the five, expressing the Olympic spirit, and the passion of sports. Be brings a blessing of passion - to run faster, jump higher, and be stronger. He is also open & inviting - sharing warmth & a welcoming spirit. The fiery designs of his head ornament are taken from the famed Dunhuang murals - with a touch of China's traditional lucky designs, which is also fitting with his red color. Huanhuan is outgoing & enthusiastic. He excels at all the ball games and represents the red Olympic

Yingying - The Tibetan antelope is fast & agile, and can swiftly race across the earth. He is a symbol of China's vast landscape, and carries the blessing of health & strength of body. Yingying's flying pose captures the essence of a species unique to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, one of the first animals put under protection in China. The selection of the Tibetan Antelope reflects China's commitment to a Green Olympics. His head ornament incorporates several decorative styles from the Qinghai-Tibet & Sinkiang cultures and the ethnic designs of Western China. Strong in track & field events, Yingying is quick-witted & agile, representing the yellow Olympic ring.

Nini - The swallow, brings the blessing of happiness & good luck. Chinese children are known for flying beautiful kites, decorated most often by a golden-winged swallow. Nini's golden wings symbolize the infinite sky. Swallow is also pronounced "yan" in Chinese, and Yanjing is what Beijing was called as an ancient capital city. Nini is innocent & joyful like a swallow. She is strong in gymnastics and represents the green Olympic ring.

We hope you enjoyed reading some creative meaning behind these cute creatures, and that you might even have a favorite! We like Nini the best (because we have a joyful friend named Nini). Hi Nini!