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Chinese New Year: Master the most famous greetings in Mandarin

Pierre Cerchiaro | January 23, 2019 | | 0 Comments
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Chinese New Year 2019 is coming soon! The year of the pig will start on February 4th and will last 16 days, until February 19th (though most Chinese people will only take a one-week vacation). Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in China. Hundreds of millions of Chinese people go back to their hometown to celebrate it with their family, which makes it the world’s largest annual human migration. Spring Festival is an opportunity for Chinese people to gather with family and friends, give red envelops (with money inside), and wish each other a happy Chinese New Year. 

In Mandarin Chinese, there are plenty of greetings for Lunar New Year to use and they are all meaningful. Master some of them and impress local people. Chinese people will be pleasantly surprised to see that you have an interest in their culture and mother tongue.  

In this article, you will learn the basic phrases that can be used to wish happiness, luck, success or lots of money. First, let’s learn some basic vocabulary: 

 

  • Wish you → 祝你 zhù nǐ

兄弟,祝你旅途愉快 Xiōngdì, zhù nǐ lǚtú yúkuài

Brother, wish you a pleasant journey 

 

  • Spring Festival / Chinese New Year → 春节 chūnjié

奶奶,好久不见,春节快乐 nǎinai, hǎojiǔ bùjiàn, chūnjié kuàilè

Grandma, long time no see, happy Spring Festival

 

  • Red Envelop → 红包 hóngbāo

我妈妈送给我一千元的红包,让我很开心 wǒ māmā sòng gěi wǒ yīqiān yuán de hóngbāo, ràng wǒ hěn kāixīn

My mom offered me a red envelope of 1000 yuan, made me so happy

 

  • To wish somebody a happy Chinese New Year → 拜年 bàinián

阿姨,我们给你拜年来啦 Āyí, wǒmen gěi nǐ bàinián lái la

Auntie, we've come to wish you a happy New Year

 

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Now that you know some basic vocabulary, let’s learn some Chinese greetings that you can use in the future with your Chinese friends or colleagues. Prepare a pencil and your notebook, our Chinese class starts now. 

 

Common greetings: They are the most used greetings and knowing them is essential, especially during the Chinese New Year period, where a lot of local vendors, friends, and family wish you a happy New Year. 

  • (祝你)新年快乐 xīnnián kuàileHappy New Year
  • (祝你)新年好 xīnnián hǎoGood Year
  • (祝你)春节快乐 chūnjié kuàile Happy Chinese New Year

 

Wishing luck: These three greetings are more advanced, though still used a lot. Master them to impress your Chinese friends. 

  • (祝你)心想事成 xīnxiǎng shì chéngAll wishes come true
  • (祝你)猪年大吉 zhūnián dàjí A lot of luck for the year of the pig
  • (祝你)大吉大利 dàjí dàlìGood luck and great prosperity 

 

Wishing fortune: An important tradition during Chinese New Year is to give red envelopes that are filled with money. Usually, money was usually given to children and older family members in paper red envelopes, but in recent years, people have started to send “red e-envelopes” on WeChat instead to all their relatives and friends.

  • (祝你)恭喜发财 gōngxǐ fācáiMay you have a prosperous Chinese New Year (发财 meaning "get rich")
  • (祝你)财源广进 cáiyúan guǎng jìnMay wealth flow in
  • (祝你)金玉满堂 jīnyù mǎn tángMay gold and jade fill the halls

 

Wishing success in one's career: In order to have money, you need to be successful in your job. Wishing somebody a successful professional life is basically wishing him/her fortune. 

  • (祝你)工作顺利 gōngzuò shùnlìProfessional success (work + smooth)
  • (祝你)事业有成 shìyè yǒuchéng Professional success (career + achieve success)
  • (祝你)生意兴隆 shēngyì xīnglóngFlourishing business

 

Wishing good health: These greetings are mostly used for elderly people or people going through a bad health period. 

  • (祝你)身体健康 shēntǐ jiànkāng Good health
  • (祝你)龙马精神 lóngmǎ jīngshén Spirit of a dragon horse (meaning full of vitality) 

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These greetings above may not be words that you use in your daily life, but they become very important during the Spring Festival. Thus, learning them is important. In China, there are two ways that lead to a friendly relationship with locals: speaking a fair level of Chinese and understanding Chinese culture. Mastering these greetings will help you to achieve this goal. If you are in China or plan to go there, don’t hesitate to go to a friend's family home to experience a real Chinese New Year atmosphere with friendly locals, all while enjoying authentic food!  

But don’t forget to bring some red envelopes ;)

 

 Sign up for a free Chinese class!

 

Pierre Cerchiaro

Pierre Cerchiaro

Pierre Cerchiaro is a contributing writer at TutorMing. He is a French expat working in Taiwan and has had both studying experience in China and Taiwan. He is passionate about the Chinese language and is a foodaholic.

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