First Published: January 2006. Updated: December 27, 2016; January 1, 2017.
Happy New Year! How do you say it in Mandarin Chinese? Read on . . .
新年快樂 (simplified: 新年快乐, pinyin spelling xīn nián kuài lè, pronounced sseen nee-ahn kwhy luh) is Happy New Year in Chinese.
新年 (pinyin spelling xīn nián, pronounced sseen nee-ahn) is New Year. 新 (xīn) is new and 年 (nián) is year.
快樂 (simplified: 快乐, pinyin spelling kuài lè, pronounced kwhy luh) is happiness, joy, delight, or rejoicings.
So “Happy New Year” in English is “New Year Happy” in Chinese: 新年快樂 (xīn nián kuài lè).
How to say Happy Chinese Lunar New Year in Chinese?
The most common Chinese ways of saying Happy Lunar New Year are Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) and Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese). Even though the pronunciations are a little different, both are written the same way.
How do you write it? It's . . .
恭禧發財 (simplified 恭禧发财, pinyin spelling gōng xǐ fā cái, pronounced like goong ssee fah tsign).
Gong Xi (恭禧) is congratulations or respectfully wishing one joy.
Fa Cai (發財) is to become rich or to make money.
Thus, Gong Xi Fa Cai means wishing you to be prosperous in the coming year.
So, when people greet you with or Gong Xi Fa Cai during the Chinese New Year, what do you say?
Simply respond with the same phrase they used. It means “Wishing you a prosperous year, too.”
A fun way to respond to someone who greets you with Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) or Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese) is Hong Bao Na Lai, “Red envelope please!”
What to Say to Gong Hey Fat Choy (恭禧發財)?
Hong Bao Na Lai!
Yes, to a close friend or colleague you can say, “Hong Bao Na Lai,” (紅包拿來) which is “May I have the red envelope, please!”
Hong Bao (紅包) is a red envelope. Red is the luckiest color in China. During Chinese New Year, Chinese parents give cash gifts in red envelopes to their children. So hong bao is cash gift or lucky money. In a different context, it can also be used to mean bribe money.
Na Lei (拿來) means “Bring it to me.”
How do you write Hong Bao Na Lai in Chinese?
紅包拿來 (simplified 红包拿来, pinyin spelling hóng bāo ná lái, pronounced like hoong bow nah lie).
So here’s your Chinese lesson of the day:
Person A: Gong Xi Fa Cai. May you become rich!
Person B: Hong Bao Na Lai. Red envelope, please. Let me start to become rich by getting money from you.
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The Essential Guide to New Year, Lunar New Year, Gong Xi Fa Cai, and Gong Hey Fat Choy Greetings for Mandarin Chinese Learners by Good Characters
Download some Chinese phrases audio files for free (3 phrases recorded by 4 so 12 files total)
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