On the first day of Lunar Year, Chinese people traditionally go from house to house to visit their friends, relatives, and neighbors. This action is called Bainian (bài nián拜年) in Chinese, which means “to pay a New Year’s call” . People start the first day of a year by having breakfast earlier than usual, dressing children in new clothes, and heading out to pay a lot of visits. If you are an expat living in China, this is a perfect opportunity to express your best wishes. Come to learn some expressions at the last moment!
过年好! (guò nián hǎo)
新年快乐! (xīn nián kuài lè)
给您拜年了! (gěi nín bài nián le)
The sentences above are similar to “Happy New Year” in English. The first two is used by almost everyone, while the last one is used when a young person pays a visit to an elderly or respected person.
With the rapid spread of Internet, the methods of Bainian have developed into a great variety of forms. There’s no need for you to express greetings from door to door if you are busy. Alternatively, you can send e-mails, online videos, e-cards, or text messages to give a new year’s wish.
Beginnings of Greetings
As for greetings, there is no difference in expressions resulted by the age. However, expressions to the elder and the young are different in Chinese.
祝您… (zhù nín…)
Meaning : Wish you or bless you…
If the person you are to greet is older than you, you can say: 祝您…
Meaning: Wish you or bless you…
If the one you are to greet is younger than you, you can say: 祝你…
心想事成 (xīn xiǎng shì chéng):
Meaning: All your wishes come true.
万事如意 (wàn shì rú yì)
Meaning: May everything goes the way you wish for.
笑口常开 (xiào kǒu cháng kāi)
Meaning: Be happy and wear smiles every day.
吉星高照 (jí xīng gāo zhào)
Meaning: Wish you be blessed by God of Fortune, God of Prosperity and God of Longevity.
吉祥如意 (jí xiáng rú yì)
Meaning: Wish you good luck on everything that you are willing to do.
新春大吉 (xīn chūn dà jí)
Meaning: May the new spring brings you good fortune.
大吉大利 (dà jí dà lì)
Meaning: I wish you happiness, luck and wealth in a new year.
恭喜发财，红包拿来 (Gōng xǐ fā cái, hóng bāo ná lái)
Meaning: Wish you prosperous in the new year. Please give me a red envelope!
Note: On Chinese New Year, one of the most loved pastimes is exchanging “红包” (hóng bāo, red envelopes), also called “压岁钱” (yā suì qián, gift money), especially for kids. The gift is what adults give the youth during spring festival to bring blessings and good luck to them.
Greetings for Health
身体健康 (shēn tǐ jiàn kāng)
Meaning: I wish you the best of your health.
龙马精神 (lóng mǎ jīng shén)
Meaning: Wish you be energetic.
Greetings for Work or Business
恭喜发财 (gōng xǐ fā cái)
Meaning: Wish you be prosperous.
财源广进 (cái yuán guǎng jìn)
Meaning: May you have abundant source of income and receive wealth and fortune.
生意兴隆 (shēng yì xīng lóng)
Meaning: May your business thriving.
工作顺利 (gōng zuò shùn lì)
Meaning: Everything goes well with your work
事业有成 (shì yè yǒu chéng)
Meaning: May you make achievements in your career.
事业蒸蒸日上 (shì yè zhēng zhēng rì shàng)
Meaning: Wish your business flourishing.
步步高升 (bù bù gāo shēng):
Meaning: May you have a good prospect in job promotion.
平步青云 (píng bù qīng yún)
Meaning: Wish you get promoted rapidly.
马到成功 (mǎ dào chéng gōng)
Meaning: Wish you meet with success at the very beginning.
Greetings for Students
学业有成 (xué yè yǒu chéng)
Meaning: Make achievements on school work.
学习进步 (xué xí jìn bù)
Meaning: Make progress on studies.
金榜题名 (jīn bǎng tí míng)
Meaning: Succeed in the examinations (especially for those who are going to take an important examination, such as college entrance examination.)
Greetings for the family
阖家欢乐 (hé jiā huān lè)
Meaning: Have a happy family.
家和万事兴 (jiā hé wàn shì xīng)
Meaning: Harmonious family brings good wealth.
年年有余 (nián nián yǒu yú)
Meaning: Always get more than you wanted. (a wish for surplus and bountiful harvests every year)
蛇年行大运 (Shé nián xíng dà yùn)
Meaning: Good luck for the year of Snake.
岁岁平安 (suì suì ping ān)
Meaning: Wish you get rid of all mishaps.
Note: It is often used when tea-things is broken during Chinese New Year, because “岁” (suì, each year) is a homophone for “碎” (suì, break).
Greetings for Single Female
早日找到如意郎君 (zǎo rì zhǎo dào rú yì láng jūn)
Meaning: Find your Mr. Right as soon as possible.