During the Chinese New Year season, Chinese people greet each other with lucky phrases. Our Confucius Institute for Scotland Chinese language teacher Wang Jin shares some of the phrases. Let’s read how to spread good luck…and there’s a QR code link to lead you to more lucky phrases!
The greetings are often referred to as 吉祥话 (jíxiánghuà) in Chinese, meaning auspicious words or phrases. Some of the most common greetings include:
新年快乐 Xīnnián kuàilè Happy new year
过年好 Guònián hǎo Happy new year
恭喜发财 Gōngxǐ fācái Wishing you wealth
Numerous other greetings exist, some of which may be used in specific situations. For example, as breaking objects during the New Year is considered inauspicious, one may then say 岁岁平安 (Suìsuì-píng’ān) immediately after such an act, which means “everlasting peace year after year”. Suì (岁), meaning “age” is homophonous with 碎 (suì) (meaning “shatter”), this demonstrates the Chinese love for wordplay to make auspicious phrases. Similarly, 年年有余 (Niánnián yǒuyú), meaning “wish for surpluses and bountiful harvests every year”, plays on the word yú that can also refer to 鱼 (yú meaning fish), making it a catch phrase for fish-based Chinese New Year’s dishes and it is also the reason behind hanging paintings or images of fish on walls or presenting them as gifts.
Common auspicious greetings and sayings consist of four characters, such as the following:
万事如意 Wànshì rúyì Hope everything goes your way
岁岁平安 Suìsuì píng’ān May you stay safe and sound all year round
鹏程万里 Péngchéng wànlǐ Have a bright future
龙马精神 Lóngmǎ jīngshén Be as energetic as a dragon and a horse
阖家幸福 Héjiā xìngfú Wishing happiness to all your family
心想事成 Xīnxiǎng shìchéng May all your wishes come true
身体健康 Shēntǐ jiànkāng Wishing you good health
出入平安 Chūrù píng’ān Wishing you safety wherever you go
笑口常开 Xiàokǒu chángkāi Wear a smile often
生意兴隆 Shēngyì xìnglóng Wishing you a booming business
Children are taught to say these greetings, especially on receiving their red envelopes (It is popular for money to be given to children and other young people in red paper envelopes (红包, hóngbāo) at Chinese New Year.) The phrases are also used when gifts are exchanged or wishes are made at temples.
Scan the following QR or click the link below for more lucky phrases.