Learn Your Blessings For Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year – my favorite festivity! It’s a time of clashing chopsticks, red-pocket wars and pandemonium. Okay – I may be exaggerating, but in my family, it’s somewhat true! Families are united by dinner tables inundated with scrumptious Chinese dishes, with non-married members waiting to receive their red pockets, or “lai-see” envelopes.
But more so – it’s really a time of greetings and spreading positivity among friends and family. Don’t fret just yet – even if you’re not from Hong Kong, you can still learn some basic Chinese New Year greetings!
Now – here comes the tricky bit. There are greetings for a range of categories – from work to health, family to prosperity. Sometimes, certain greetings are more appropriate than others, depending on who you’re with.
If you’re at a dinner table surrounded by business men, I wouldn’t exactly go for the “wishing you a year of beauty” greeting. Awkward.
So let’s break it down. There’s no rule to how many greetings you are supposed to say – but you always start with the basic, followed by a more specific greeting. So let’s begin:
You’ll always start with “wish you” or “bless you” which is:
(Cantonese: Sun Lin Fai Lok; Mandarin: Xīn nián kuài lè)
(Cantonese: Sum Seung Si Sing; Mandarin: Xīn xiǎng shì chéng)
(Cantonese: Gung Hei Fat Choy; Mandarin: Gong xi fa cai)
*After receiving a red pocket, it is polite to respond with this greeting.
(Cantonese: Ma Dou Sing Gong; Mandarin: Mǎ dào chéng gōng)
(Cantonese: Lin Lin Yao Yu; Mandarin: Nián nián yǒu yú)
FOR MIND, BODY AND SOUL:
(Cantonese: Long Ma Jing Sun; Mandarin: Lóng mǎ jīng shén)
(Cantonese: Sun Tai Geen Hong; Mandarin: Shēn tǐ jiàn kāng)
(Cantonese: Tsing Chun Mei Lai; Mandarin: Qīng Chūn Měi Lì)
*Appropriate for women only
FOR “MONKEY BUSINESS”:
For friends and family you are very familiar with, there’s a common greeting-joke rhyme you can say: (differs in Mandarin and Cantonese but the meaning is exactly the same)
May you be prosperous and happy, now where’s my red envelope!
恭喜發財 利是逗來 (Cantonese: Gong Hei Fat Choi Lai See Dao Loi)
恭喜發財 紅包拿來 (In Mandarin: Gong Xi Fa Cai Hong Bao Na Lai)