chinese new year greetings

Essential Chinese New Year Traditions and 25 Fun Chinese New Year Greetings

The biggest holiday in Chinese culture is just around the corner.

Get ready to wish friends, family and neighbors a Happy Chinese New Year!

But wait—how do we say it in Chinese?

If you’re looking for classic, new or popular greetings for Chinese New Year, you’ve come to the right place!

We’ll explore all the fun and festive ways to greet people during this auspicious time of year.

Everything You Need to Know About Chinese New Year

As the most important holiday of the year, Chinese New Year brings celebrations that last over 2 weeks.

Called 农历新年 (nóng lì xīn nián – Lunar New Year) or 春节 (chūn jié – Spring Festival), Chinese New Year is celebrated on the first month of the lunar calendar, from the 1st to the 15th day.

Here’s a link to see which dates Chinese New Year falls on during each year.

Visiting Friends and Family, Sharing Gifts

During this time, it’s customary for people to greet one another with New Year well-wishes, which bring in good fortune for the coming year.

It’s also customary to visit people at their homes, a practice called 拜年 (bài nián). Upon visiting one another, people exchange gifts, such as fruit, candy, cakes and red envelopes with cash, called 红包 (hóng bāo).

Here’s a humorous skit from CCTV (China Central Television, the state television broadcaster) on what happens during 拜年 (bài nián).

However, there are some gifts that are taboo, which you shouldn’t bring. Gifts associated with funerals, like handkerchiefs, towels and certain types of flowers such as chrysanthemums, may be considered offensive.

Chinese people dislike receiving clocks, because it suggests that time (and life) is running out. Sharp objects are considered unlucky because they suggest a cutting off of ties or relations.

Here’s a handy infographic guide on gift-giving customs in China, so you’ll always know what to get.

Chinese New Year Customs and Activities

In addition to visits and gifts, Chinese people celebrate by going to open-air markets that pop up just for Chinese New Year. These markets are often crowded with people and are very lively and festive. At these markets, you can buy food, small gifts, cut flowers, house plants and other  (nián huò), that is, New Year paraphernalia.

Several types of flowers are associated with Chinese New Year, such as plum blossoms  (méi huā), kumquat  (jīn jú) and narcissus  (shuǐ xiān huā).

Traditionally, Chinese also light firecrackers, or  (fàng biān pào)during Chinese New Year. This has a symbolic meaning of scaring away evil and bad luck.

Chinese people love watching dragon dances, or  (wǔ lóng), in which trained dancers dance as one “dragon,” often chasing one other dancer, who holds a “pearl.”

There’s also a traditional song, called “新年好呀” (xīn nián hǎo yā), which you might hear if you’re lucky.

Many people like to wear red at Chinese New Year. Red is always a lucky color for traditional Chinese. That’s why you’ll see plenty of red at Chinese weddings, grand openings of businesses and other celebratory events.

To decorate, Chinese may put up auspicious sayings written on red paper, called  (chūn tiē) or 挥春 (huī chūn), or display paper cuttings called 剪纸图 (jiǎn zhǐ tú)—a special art that presents silhouetted images of animals, flowers and even entire scenes in paper.

How to Say “Happy New Year” in Chinese

The two common ways to say “Happy New Year” in Chinese are:

新年好!(xīn nián hǎo)
Have a good New Year!

新年快乐!(xīn nián kuài lè)
Have a Happy New Year!

Both phrases work well and are widely accepted.

Generally, you’d begin with greeting the person by name. Especially if the person is older than you, someone in your family or someone with authority, you must address them with their position or title. For example:

Family member:
“奶奶,新年快乐!” (nǎi nǎi,xīn nián kuài lè)
“Grandma, Happy New Year!

Authority figure:
“王老板,新年好。” (wáng lǎo bǎn,xīn nián hǎo)
“Mr. (Boss) Wong, Happy New Year.”

Friend:
“小南,新年快乐!” (xiǎo nán,xīn nián kuài lè)
Nan, Happy New Year.

How to Begin a New Year Greeting

To use a New Year greeting, such as the ones listed in this article, begin your sentence with 祝你 (zhù nǐ), which translates to “wish you…”

To be more formal, which is necessary for greeting an older or respected person, use the honorific (nín) for “you” instead. So, you’d begin your greeting with 祝您 (zhù nín), which is a more polite version of “wish you…”

For example:

祝您猴年大吉! (zhù nín hóu nián dà jí)
“Wishing you huge blessings in the Year of the Monkey! (2016)”

Now that we’ve covered the basics of starting greetings, let’s dive into 25 popular Chinese New Year greetings that you can use this Chinese New Year.

25 Chinese New Year Greetings to Wish Health, Wealth and Good Fortune

Ways to Wish People Wealth and Prosperity in the New Year

Money and wealth are highly valued in Chinese culture, and Chinese people are not shy to talk about money. It’s considered appropriate and polite to offer money-related greetings at New Year.

Here’s a list of wealth and prosperity Chinese New Year greetings that you can use right away:

1. 恭喜发财 (gōng xǐ fā cái)

“Wish you wealth and prosperity.”

2. 财源广进 (cái yuán guǎng jìn)

“May wealth flow in.”

3. 和气生财 (hé qì shēng cái)

“May harmony bring wealth.”

4. 金玉滿堂 (jīn yù mǎn táng)

“May your gold and jade fill the halls.”

5. 一本萬利 (yī běn wàn lì)

“Hope you put in a small investment and reap a huge profit.”

6. 招財進寶 (zhāo cái jìn bǎo)

“May you find wealth and treasures.”

7. 財源滾滾 (cái yuán gǔn gǔn)

“May wealth come pouring in.”

8. 大吉大利 (dà jí dà lì)

“May you have great luck and great profit.”

9. 年年有餘 (nián nián yǒu yú)

“May you have abundance every year.”

Wishing People Success at Chinese New Year

Another series of popular Chinese New Year greetings involves wishing people success in their work or business. Yes, some of it’s related to making money—it’s hard to get away from that theme!

10. 事业发达 (shì yè fā dá)

“May your career to take off.”

11. 升官发财 (shēng guān fā cái)

“May you get promoted and receive a raise.”

12. 生意兴隆 (shēng yì xīng lóng)

“May your business flourish.”

13. 學業進步 (xué yè jìn bù)

“May your studies improve.”

14. 步步高升 (bù bù gāo shēng)

“May every step take you higher.”

15. 新年進步 (xīn nián jìn bù)

“May the New Year bring much better things.”

Wishing People Happiness, Health and Peace

You can also wish people peace, health and happiness. The below phrases are perfect for elders in the family, people outside of your work and business circles, or just people in general that you care for and love.

16. 心想事成 (xīn xiǎng shì chéng)

“May all your wishes come true.”

17. 万事如意 (wàn shì rú yì)

“May everything go well with you.”

18. 笑口常開 (xiào kǒu cháng kāi)

“May you smile often.”

19. 五福臨門 (wǔ fú lín mén)

“May the five blessings come to you.” (Longevity, wealth, health, virtue, and a natural death.)

20. 身体健康 (shēn tǐ jiàn kāng)

“Wish you good health.”

21. 竹報平安 (zhú bào píng ān)

“May you hear tidings of peace.”

22. 福壽雙全 (fú shòu shuāng quán)

“May you enjoy both longevity and blessing.”

23. 岁岁平安 (suì suì píng ān)

“May you have peace at every age.”

24. 和氣吉祥全家樂 (hé qì jí xiáng quán jiā lè)

“Wish you harmony and joy for the whole family.”

25. 四季平安過旺年 (sì jì píng ān guò wàng nián)

“Wish you four seasons of peace and a flourishing year.”

 

Now you have 25 new Chinese New Year greetings ready to go for Chinese New Year.

But don’t stop there.

Check out more fun and easy Chinese language lessons available on FluentU, an online immersive language experience.

Oh, and get ready to party!

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