Chinese New Year Greetings: Year of the Rat!
Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, is the most important holiday in China and is a time of great celebration. In China, Chinese New Year is celebrated for two weeks! With roughly 1.4 billion Chinese people throughout the world, learning some Chinese New Year greetings can help you participate in some of the festivities, and even understand more about the history and traditions behind this festive time of year. To help you wish your friends and family health, wealth, and good fortune, we’ve broken down different greetings you can use on Chinese New Year.
The Most Common Chinese New Year Greetings
As with any new year celebration, one of the most common greetings you will use is “Happy New Year!” To wish someone “Happy New Year” in Chinese, you would say “新年快樂 (xīn nián kuài lè).” This literally translates to “new year happy.” You can also say “新年好 (xīn nián hǎo),” which directly translates to “new year good,” and is how you would say to someone “Have a good new year” or is another way to greet someone with “Happy New Year.”
How to Wish Someone Well
To begin any well-wishes you will need to begin your greeting with “祝你 (zhù nǐ).” More formally or to an elder you would use 祝您 (zhu nín). This literally translates to “wish you.” So, you can say “I wish you a Happy New Year,” by saying “祝你 新年快樂 (zhù nǐ īn nián kuài lè).” You can add these two words to any greeting including the ones we will list below.
Wishing Someone Wealth and Prosperity
It is common in Chinese culture to wish someone wealth. Most likely you have heard people say 恭禧發財 (gōng xǐ fā cái). It is often used as a greeting on Chinese New Year. This greeting translates to wishing someone prosperity in the new year. 恭(gōng) means “respectfully” while 禧 (xǐ) means joy. Together it is a way to say congratulations or respectfully wishing one joy. 發財 (fā cái) means to become rich. Therefore, all together you’re respectfully wishing someone wealth. 恭禧發財 (gōng xǐ fā cái) is also an important greeting on Chinese New Year, because in order to receive your red envelope full of money, you will need to say to the person giving you the red envelope, 恭禧發財 (gōng xǐ fā cái).
Beyond broadly wishing someone wealth and prosperity, you may wish to be more specific and wish them well in their career, jobs, or studies. There are numerous well-wishes you can use, including the following:
財源滾滾 (cái yuán gǔn gǔn) – May wealth come pouring in.
大吉大利 (dà jí dà lì) – May you have great luck and great wealth.
事业发达 (shì yè fā dá) – May your career take off.
生意兴隆 (shēng yì xīng lóng) – May your business flourish.
和气生财 (hé qì shēng cái) – May harmony bring wealth.
金玉滿堂 (jīn yù mǎn táng) – May your gold and jade fill the halls.
学习进步 (xuéxí jìnbù) – May you progress in your studies.
工作顺利 (gōng zuò shùn lì) – May your work go smoothly.
Wishing Someone Good Health and Happiness
Of course, wishing someone good health and happiness is just as important. Without health and happiness, you cannot enjoy your wealth. Here are a few ways to wish someone good health and/or happiness:
身体健康 (shēn tǐ jiàn kāng) – Wishing you good health (literally “body health”).
笑口常开 (xiào kǒu cháng kāi) – May you smile and laugh often.
心想事成 (xīn xiǎng shì chéng) – May all your wishes come true.
福壽雙全 (fú shòu shuāng quán) – May you enjoy longevity and blessings.
岁岁平安 (suì suì píng ān) – Wishing you everlasting peace throughout the years.
和氣吉祥全家樂 (hé qì jí xiáng quán jiā lè) – Wishing you harmony and joy for the whole family.
年年有余 (nián nián yǒu yú) – Wishing you surplus year after year.
龙马精神 (lóng mǎ jīngshén) – Wishing you the spirit of the dragon and horse.
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Justine Wentzell is a writer based in Los Angeles, working in the entertainment industry, and has a deep love for learning languages. As a native Angeleno and daughter of immigrants, she grew up learning Mandarin and Spanish, and studied Russian at university.