In Mandarin Chinese, 年 (Pinyin: nián 🔊) is a generic term for a “year” as well as other related things such as “age”, “period of life”, “period of history”, “harvest” and “New Year”. Some compound words of 春 include
- 大 + 年 = 大年 (dànián): another word for “Spring Festival” (Chinese New Year)
- 千 + 年 = 千年 (qiānnián): thousand years; millennium
- 中 + 年 = 中年 (zhōngnián 🔊): middle age; middle-aged
According to Wiktionary,
In the oracle bone script and early bronze inscriptions, it was originally 秂, an ideogrammic compound and phono-semantic compound: semantic 禾 (“wheat; grain”) + phonetic 人 (“person”) — a person carrying wheat on his back — harvest.(I am pretty sure it was rice, not wheat.)
In bronze inscriptions after the Western Zhou period, a stroke was often added to 人 to give 千 , which still acted as a phonetic component, and this form was inherited by later scripts. The current form is simplified from 秊.More photos related to harvest, New Year and sea glass @ Shutterstock.