Chinese Greetings For Chinese New Year

It smells like spring in Shanghai now, and the whole nation is ready to celebrate. Yes, 春节(chūnjié,Chinese New Year’s Day) falls on the 8th of February this year, but it starts with the 团圆饭 (tuányuán fàn, reunion dinner) on the 7th and ends with the 元宵节 (Yuánxiāo jié, Lantern Festival) on the 22nd. 2016 will be 猴年(Hóu nián, the Year of Monkey)!

One of the most important things during the festival is to say nice greetings to each other, and here are a few of the best ones!

General New Years Greetings

The following three greetings you can use in every Spring Festival. 

  1.  春节快乐!Chūnjié kuàilè! Happy Spring Festival!
  2.  过年好! Guònián hǎo!  Have a good Spring Festival! Spring Festival is also called “年”(nián), “过年”(guònián) means to celebrate spring Festival.
  3. 恭喜发财!Gōngxǐ fācái!   May you be happy and prosperous! You might know this one very well, but try to pay attention to the pronunciation of “喜” (xǐ) and “财”(cái).

Special Greetings for the Year of the Monkey

Chinese people like the 12 animals of the zodiac, and they’ll be really impressed if you know how to use the specific greetings for the current zodiac. 

猴年大吉!Hóunián dàjí!

Translation: Best of luck in the Year of Monkey!

马上封“猴”  mǎshàng fēnghóu!  

Translation: May you have immediate success!

These are puns. The phrase first came from a jade sculpture with a monkey on a horse. “On the horse”, 马上 (mǎshang),is the same as the word “immediate” in Chinese, and 猴 (hóu) shares the same pronunciation of “侯” (hóu) (marquis, the second highest rank of nobility in ancient China). “You will be granted a title of nobility immediately”!

猴赛雷   hóu sài léi! 

Translation: Awesome!

This might be THE WORD for 2016.  It is actually a Cantonese word, which means “awesome”.

The Chinese New Year of the Monkey Mascot

The Chinese New Year of the Monkey Mascot

On Jan.21st, 2016, CCTV announced its mascot for the New Year Gala. It is a 3D monkey designed by the same artist who created the mascots for the Beijing Olympics. The high-lighted cheeks (腮,sāi)of the monkey(猴, hóu) are have been mocked by tens of thousands of netizens for being ugly (雷,léi). Coincidentally the teasing sounds like the cantonese word, and the middle word (腮 sāi ) is changed into another character (赛, sài) to sound even closer to the cantonese word. 

Now, you can greet like a Chinese person, right? 猴赛雷!

Wang Rong (Emily) is a cofounder of GoEast and writes columns for the GoEast Blog on Chinese language learning, Chinese culture, and life in China as a language specialist. She holds a BA degree in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language and a MA in Comparative Literature. She has been teaching Chinese to foreigners since 2007 as a tutor and a professor in Universities.