Happy Olympic Day to you!  I think the thing I am most excited about for the Olympics this year is the adorable mascots.  They were EVERYWHERE in China, and I NEVER got tired of seeing them.  🙂    I bought a coffee mug with Beibei (the blue one) on it, and I wash it out every morning, leaving half a dozen clean ones gathering dust in the cupboard, cause I love drinking from it.  🙂  I can’t wait to see them perform (I hope!) at the Opening Ceremonies tonight.

In the meantime, let’s get to know our 5 friends:

The 2008 Olympic mascots were unveiled in Beijing on November 11, 2005 – 1,000 days before the Opening Ceremony for the Beijing Games. The five “Fuwa” – one to represent each of the Olympic Rings – carry a unifying message of friendship and peace, particularly aimed at the world’s children. They were designed to convey the Olympic spirit and to express the playful qualities of a young group of close friends. Their mission is to help Beijing 2008 spread its theme (One World, One Dream) to every continent. Fuwa translates to good luck dolls or children carrying blessings.

Each of the Fuwa has a rhyming two-syllable name, which in China is a way of expressing affection towards children. Four of China’ most popular animals are represented, along with the Olympic Flame. The five Fuwa are Beibei (a fish), Jingjing (a panda), Huanhuan (the Olympic Flame), Yingying (a Tibetan antelope) and Nini (a swallow). When you put the five names together – Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni – the phrase means “Beijing Welcomes You.”


Beibei, the fish, represents the blue Olympic ring, prosperity and the sea. Fish and water symbolize prosperity in traditional Chinese culture. A fish also represents surplus in harvest. The lines of the wave designs in her headdress are based on Chinese paintings of the past. Beibei, who is said to be “gentle and pure,” is strong in water sports.







Jingjing, the panda, represents the black Olympic ring, happiness and the forest. He is said to be “charmingly naïve and optimistic,” to make children smile and be noted for strength. The lotus designs in his headdress are based on paintings from the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1234) and symbolize “the lush forest and the harmonious relationship between man and nature.”






Huanhuan, the Olympic Flame, represents the red ring, passion and fire. He is considered the big brother among the Fuwa and stands in the center “as the core embodiment of the Olympic spirit… He inspires all with the passion to run faster, jump higher and be stronger.” The designs on his head ornament are based on the Dunhuang murals and include aspects of traditionally lucky Chinese designs. Huanhuan, who is “outgoing and enthusiastic,” is strong at ball games.




Yingying, the Tibetan antelope, represents the yellow ring, health and earth (particularly the vastness of China’s landscape). The species, which is unique to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, was one of the first animals put under protection in China and its selection here is meant to reflect Beijing’s commitment to a Green Olympics. Yingying’s head ornament incorporates design elements from the Qinghai-Tibet and Sinkiang cultures, as well as the traditions of Western China. He is quick-witted, fast and agile, excelling in track and field events.




Nini, the swallow, represents the green ring, good luck and the sky. The golden-winged swallow is one of the most popular designs on kites flown by Beijing’s children in spring and summer and her design is based on these kites. Swallow is also pronounced “yan” in Chinese, and Beijing was called Yanjing as an ancient capital city. Nini, who is “innocent and joyful” excels at gymnastics.