This is how to say Happy New Year in Chinese - and how to respond

Thursday, 11th February 2021, 4:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th February 2021, 4:12 pm

Chinese New Year is a huge celebration across Asia and among Chinese communities in other parts of the world.

The Chinese New Year is based on the Lunar calendar, as opposed to the traditional Georgian calendar, and falls on 12 February this year.

You may be wondering how you can get involved and wish your friends, family and neighbours a Happy New Year in Chinese, as China has several colloquialisms and local dialect.

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So, here are the various ways to say and write “Happy New Year” in Chinese, and other informal greetings to wish people good luck and prosperity.

How do you say and write ‘Happy New Year’ in Chinese?

The Chinese language is not written in the same way as the English language, and the two most prominent ways of pronouncing words in Chinese are in Mandarin and Cantonese.

Happy New Year is written as 新年快乐 / 新年快樂 and translates as “Xīnnián kuàile”, which literally means “New Year Happiness”.

The pronunciation of Xīnnián kuàilè in Mandarin is ‘Shin-nyen kwhy-ler’ and in Catonese, it is pronounced ‘Sen-nin feye-lor’.

Another version could be to wish people a ‘Happy Lunar New Year’, this is written in Chinese as 过年好 / 過年好, and translates to “Guò nián hǎo".

“Guò nián hǎo" is pronounced as ‘gwor-nyen haoww’ in Mandarin and ‘gwor-nin haow’ in Cantonese.

These are the closest translations of Happy New Year, but are also formal and traditionally used for strangers.

How do I wish someone a ‘Happy New Year’ informally?

The most common way to wish your close friends and loved ones a happy New Year is: “Xīnnián hǎo”, which is written 新年好.

Xīnnián hǎo literally translates as ‘New Year Goodness’, similar to have a nice day/New Year.

This is pronounced in Mandarin as ‘sshin-nyen haoww’ and cantonese as ‘sen-nin haow’.

Another friendly approach would be to wish your friends and loved ones “New Year goodness,” this is translated to “Xīnnián hǎo” and written 新年好 / 新年好.

In Mandarin, it is pronounced ‘sshin-nyen haoww’ or in Cantonese as ‘sen-nin haow’.

How do you respond?

The most simple way to respond would be to repeat Happy New Year, however you could also add a positive affirmation.

A common and friendly response it to wish happiness and prosperity is “Gōngxǐ fācái”, written as 恭喜发财 and pronounced ‘Gon-See-Fahh-Kai’.

You could also say, Good fortune according to your wishes, which translates to “jíxiáng rúyì” or 吉祥如意 and is pronounced as ‘Chee-Cham-Roh-ee’.

Another positive and informal response is ‘Fortune will smile on you’ or ‘lucky star high shines', this translates to “Jíxīng gāozhào” or 吉星高照 and is pronounced ‘Chee-Chting-Gow-Haw’ .

A similar response to this is ‘May all your wishes come true,’ this translates to “Xīnxiǎng shì chéng”, or 心想事成. To pronounce this, say ‘Shin-Shang-Shee-Chung’.

How is Chinese New Year celebrated?

Millions of people all over the world celebrate Chinese New Year in their communities and families.

Before the celebrations begin, people deep clean their homes as on the day itself it is back luck to sweep or clean in case you sweep the good luck for the year ahead out of your home.

The celebrations are also called the spring festival in Chinese culture, and businesses and schools close much like they do in the UK at Christmas.

People come together to celebrate with food and parties - noodle soup is a tradition as the noodles are thought to bring luck.

Parades and performances are usually held too, including beautifully decorated dragons, people in traditional costumes and fireworks.

The colourful lights and bang of fireworks are supposed to ward off evil spirits.

Chinese people may also decorate their homes with red lanterns and decorations.