As the festivities begin surrounding the turn of the Chinese New Year, you may be wondering the best ways to wish your friends a happy New Year.
Maybe you have heard others use traditional Chinese greetings and wondered what the phrases meant?
If you want to impress your friends as we celebrate the Year of the Ox, here are some of the most common greetings and well-wishes you could use – in both Mandarin and Cantonese.
How to say Happy New Year in Chinese
There are three main ways to wish someone a Happy New Year in Chinese. In Mandarin, Happy New Year is translated as ‘xin nian’ (new year) ‘kuai le’ (happy), pronounced as shin nee-an kwai le.
This is arguably the most formal of all the greetings, and can be said in passing to strangers.
If you are after a more relaxed greeting you are more likely to use with friends and family, you may prefer the shortened version which is translated as ‘xin nian’ (new year) ‘hao’ (good) and pronounced shin nee-an how.
The third greeting is 'guo nian hao', which can actually be used in the immediate days after the New Year and is pronounced gor nee-an how.
'gong hei fat choy'
It is important to note that though this phrase is frequently used at this time of year, it does not strictly translate to 'happy Chinese New Year'.
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Instead, the term 'gong hei fat choy' is actually a wish for prosperity, it means you are hoping a person is rewarded with increased wealth in the year ahead.
It is most commonly used between those who work in business, exchanged between work colleagues during the New Year period.
‘Gong hei fat choy’ is the Cantonese way of saying the phrase, while it is said ‘gong xi fa cai’ (pronounced gong she fa tsai) in Mandarin Chinese.
China is divided in terms of languages and dialect, with Guangdong, Hong Kong and surrounding areas speaking mainly Cantonese, while elsewhere in mainland China and Taiwan, most opt to use Mandarin Chinese.
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The festivities are also known as ‘chun jie’, which translates to 'Spring Festival', which gives you a new way of well-wishing your friends and family.
'Chun jie kuia le' is pronounced 'chwen jee-eh kwai le' and is one of the more informal greetings.
In similar fashion, ‘xin nian hao’ can become ‘chun jie hao’ – pronounced chwen jee-eh how.
‘Guo nian hao’ can be swapped with ‘guo jie hao’, pronounced gor jee-eh hao. This greeting can also be used for other festivals.
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