Xin Nian Kuai Le! – Chinese New Year Greetings

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Chinese New Year is just two days away! This is probably the most important festive season for Chinese people all over the world. In Mandarin, Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) is known by various names, but the most common ones are probably

“春节” chūnjié – which literally means ‘Spring Festival’,
01 chun jie

and “农历新年” nóng lì xīn nián  – ‘Lunar Calendar New Year’
02 nong li xin nian

Celebrations can last for 15 days. In some regions, only 3 days, but the festive mood lingers. For the year 2013, the Lunar New Year’s Day falls on 10th Feb.

Are you ready to learn some New Year greetings to impress your Chinese friends? They can be used up till the 15th day, so you have enough time to practise! Ok, here goes!

“新年好” xīn nián hǎo
04 xin nian hao

“新年快乐” xīn nián kuài lè
05 xin nian kuai le

“新春愉快” xīn chūn yú kuài
06 xin chun yu kuai

All of the above mean ‘Happy New Year’, so pick whichever you fancy.
新年xīn nián: new year
好hǎo: good
快乐kuài lè: happy
新春xīn chūn: new spring
愉快yú kuài: happy

“身体健康” shēn tǐ jiàn kāng
07 shen ti jian kang

‘May you enjoy good health’
身体shēn tǐ: body
健康jiàn kāng: healthy

“心想事成” xīn xiǎng shì chéng
08 xin xiang shi cheng

‘May your dreams come true’
心xīn: heart, mind
想xiǎng: to think, to desire
事shì: things, matters
成chéng: to become, to succeed

“万事如意” wàn shì rú yì
09 wan shi ru yi

This is very similar to the above, and can be translated as ‘May everything be as you wish’.
万wàn: ten thousand, here it is used to refer to ‘many’, ‘a large number’
事shì: things, matters
如rú: like, according to
意yì: desire, intention

“恭喜发财”gōng xǐ fā cái
10 gong xi fa cai

‘May you have a prosperous New Year’
恭喜gōng xǐ: congratulations
发财fā cái: to get rich, to prosper

“恭喜发财,红包拿来” Gōng xǐ fā cái, hóng bāo ná lai
11 gongxi facai hongbao nalai

‘A prosperous New Year to you, a red packet for me!’
This is an extension of the previous greeting, said mainly by kids to adults, when they ask cheekily for red packets, which are monetary gifts wrapped in red envelopes given during festive seasons. (More on red packets here.)
红包hóng bāo: red packet
拿来ná lai: literally ‘to bring here’; in this context, ‘to give me’

“X年行大运” X nián xíng dà yùn
12 she nian xing da yun

‘May you have wonderful luck in the year of X’.
This year is the year of the Snake, so it would be:
“蛇年行大运” shé nián xíng dà yùn.
蛇shé: snake
年nián: year
行xíng: to go, in this case it pairs with the next two words
大dà: big, great
运yùn: luck
行大运xíng dà yùn: to be in great luck

It’s also common to add before a greeting:
“祝你”zhù nǐ
13 zhu ni

祝zhù: to wish
你nǐ: you

So a typical Chinese New Year greeting may go something like this:

“新年快乐,恭喜发财!祝你身体健康,心想事成,万事如意!”
Xīn nián kuài lè, gōng xǐ fā cái! Zhù nǐ shēn tǐ jiàn kāng, xīn xiǎng shì chéng, wàn shì rú yì!
14 classic greeting

‘A Happy and Prosperous New Year to you! May you enjoy good health, and may all your dreams and wishes come true!’

Try a few of them with your Chinese friends. Even just a single phrase would make a wonderful New Year gift – they will greatly appreciate your effort!

Until next time, and meanwhile, enjoy the festive season!

新年快乐,恭喜发财!
Xīn nián kuài lè, gōng xǐ fā cái!

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