To any native Chinese person of a certain age, the tune is unmistakable. “The snowflakes are fluttering and the north wind is blowing,” serenades iconic Taiwanese crooner Fei Yu-ching in his 1983 classic, Yi Jian Mei. The melancholic love song compares the singer’s undying love to a blossoming plum tree in the middle of winter. It’s also an apt metaphor for the song that has found a second life in the unlikeliest of circumstances nearly four decades later, shooting to the top of music charts… in snowy Scandinavia. Yi Jian Mei has occupied the top spot on Spotify’s Viral 50 charts in Norway for over a week now, and it’s second in Sweden and Finland over the past few days. It also reached the top of the charts in New Zealand , where it remained at the time of publishing. The odd phenomenon coincides with a jump in web searches for the first line of the song’s chorus in Mandarin. Interest in “Xue hua piao piao” has surged since the beginning of May, peaking in early June, according to Google Trends . Even more surprisingly, the lyrics registered more-than-usual attention from countries where Chinese isn’t widely spoken -- like Latvia, for instance. Just how did a 37-year-old Chinese song capture a global audience all of a sudden? The earliest clues can be found on Kuaishou, one of the most popular video apps in China. Kuaishou is China’s original short-video king, and it now hosts ‘little shops’ and live streaming On January 6, actor-turned-director Zhang Aiqin posted a 10-second video of himself doing what many others regularly do on short video apps: He sang a song. While not quite a household name, Zhang has starred in supporting roles in several domestic blockbusters , turning his unusual appearance into an asset that has earned him the endearing nickname of “duck egg.” He calls himself “Brother Egg” in his Kuaishou account. In that clip , he did a brief rendering of Yi Jian Mei while outdoors, surrounded by bare branches and heavy snow. The video has since been viewed more than 3.2 million times by Kuaishou’s primarily China-based users. It might have just stopped there if not for the power of the internet in 2020. In a string of events detailed by Know Your Meme , a website documenting the origins of memes, a user discovered Zhang’s video in February and shared it on YouTube , which is blocked in China. In late March, as the world grappled with the coronavirus pandemic and hunkered down at home, another user reposted the clip on Instagram (also banned in China) and replaced Zhang’s voice with the original performance by Fei. From then on, the clip gradually gained momentum, circulating widely on global social platforms like Twitter (banned in China) and TikTok. By the last week of May, Alt TikTok took notice. Sometimes known as Elite TikTok, Alt TikTok consists of teens who indulge in sarcastic insider jokes that sometimes mock ordinary TikTok users doing ordinary things like dancing to popular tunes. One user came up with the idea of pairing a hip hop remix of Fei’s Yi Jian Mei with a sexist joke. Kids apparently found it funny: An instant trend was set and one of the top videos has more than 800,000 likes so far. And that was how Yi Jian Mei solidified its meme status. As for Zhang, whose innocent rendition of the old Chinese classic set off a global trend, he tells Abacus that he’s flattered about the song’s reception. “I feel rather excited and honored that my video clip is trending overseas and being recognized by so many foreign friends,” he said via a WeChat audio message.