Guest Post: Mandarin Phrases and Tradition for Chinese New Year

Today it is time for the first Guest Post of the year on this blog. As there is so much talk all over the other blogs about one certain topic we shall join the party and thus this Guest Post will be all about the Chinese New Year!

Of all Chinese holidays, Chinese New Year, sometimes referred to as the Spring Festival, is the most important.  It is a celebration of prosperity, tradition, family, and good will.  If you want to learn Mandarin, the following phrases are a good start.

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(1)恭喜发财/恭喜發財(gong xi fa cai) “bless happiness, and prosperity”

This wish for prosperity is typically only used during Chinese New Year.  The greeting is offered before gifts or lucky money is given by the host.

(2) 新年快乐/新年快樂(xin nian kuai le“Happy New Year”

This is the same generic greeting that is used during New Years in the West.  It can be used as a greeting, a parting phrase, or both.

(3) 学业进步/學業進步(xue ye jin bu)- “”Progress in Studies”

This greeting is offered to students of all ages to wish them well with their studies.

(4) 生意兴隆/生意興隆(sheng yi xing long-“Prosperous Business”

This greeting is offered to business owners for prosperous business in the year to come.  It is typically reserved for business owners that you know personally.

(5) 龙马精神/龍馬精神(long ma jing shen)-“Spirit of Dragon and Horse” This greeting is used to wish an elderly person the energy of a horse and the longevity of a dragon.

(6) 万事如意/萬事如意(wan shi ru yi-“10,000 Things According to Will”     

This greeting is a wish that the year to come will go according to the desires and plans of the recipient.

(7) 心想事成(xin xiang shi cheng)”Accomplish That In Your Heart”

This greeting is a wish that the person will achieve anything they want.


Chinese New Year Traditions

There are a variety of traditions observed during the Chinese New Year.  These vary by location, though there are a few traditions that are nearly universally observed among Chinese people the world over.

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Spring cleaning – Before the holiday, people thoroughly clean their homes and change their ritual decorations.  Red paper bearing 4 character auspicious sayings are hung in pairs surrounding the doorway.

Dinner – The night before the holiday calls for the extended family to sit down together for a large meal.  Traditionally, the meal is hosted at the home of the family’s oldest living patriarch.  This is such an important meal that some Chinese will travel long distances.

Visiting – Many Chinese people spend the New Year holiday visiting relatives and close friends.  Gifts are typically exchanged and lucky money may be given in small red envelopes.  Parents give the envelopes to unmarried children, and in some regions, lucky money may be given to extended family or unmarried friends.  Children or others who may receive lucky money will greet the host with gong xi fa cai (bless happiness, and prosperity) while clasping their hands and moving them vertically.

Remember different areas have their own special New Year stories and legends. Wish you have a happy Spring Festival. For more Chinese learning tips, you are welcome to visit our blog Learn Mandarin Now.


How will you spend this New Year?

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20 thoughts on “Guest Post: Mandarin Phrases and Tradition for Chinese New Year”

  1. Chinese New Year in Thailand means LOTS of fireworks and noise-making. Last night I saw the red lanterns being strung up down the main city street. I’m looking forward to how Chiang Rai celebrates as the previous years I was in Chiang Mai. (Many Thais are part Chinese, hence the phrase Thai-Chinese. The king is also Chinese.)

    Happy Chinese New Year to you and your family. Wishing you much love, luck and happiness.

    1. Yeah, I heard also that in China it is all about the noise of those fire crackers. I think I would get a headache there…its already annoying enough each time when I visit my in laws that there is some wedding in the neighbourhood and of course with a lot of firecrackers.

  2. Happy New Year, Timo and family! I will be going to a restaurant in a few minutes to have dinner with C.’s family. I hope they don’t drink too much…

  3. I had the pleasure of attending a Chinese New Year celebration last year. It was so much fun! We were tossing food all over the place:)
    “Long ma jing shen” – I like that one:)

  4. Oh, I’m so German, wishing happy Chinese new year now is not good, the “belated” wishing is bad luck, the “early” wishes before CNY would have been okay. Sorry!

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