Practical Expressions for Spring Festival

2013 Chinese New Year
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!

Basic Expressions

过年好!  (guò nián hǎo)
新年快乐! (xīn nián kuài lè)
给您拜年了! (gěi nín bài nián le)

Greetings for Spring FestivalThe 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 GreetingsSpring Festival in China

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…

祝你…(zhù nǐ)
Meaning: Wish you or bless you…
If the one you are to greet is younger than you, you can say: 祝你…

Common Greetings

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.

The Year of Snake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
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

spring festival scrolls恭喜发财 (gōng xǐ fā cái) New Year scrolls
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
Idioms for Spring Festival
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.)

2013 Chinese New Year
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.

When you think you understand Chinese

When you think you understand Chinese - A Learn Chinese story that will make you laugh

Brad, a Chinese learner who came from Canada, was invited to a dinner by his Chinese friend Liu.

Liu introduced him to his friends around the dinner table. Then they started to eat and chat. After a while, a friend of Liu stood up and said:”对不起,方便一下。” then he left the table.

Brad caught most of the sentence:(“excuse me, I need to go 方便.”) He didn’t know what “方便” is so he asked Liu? Liu told him that it meant “go to the washroom. ”

The dinner and chat was going well and Brad started to draw people’s attention since he could speak some Chinese.

When one of Liu’s friend realized that Brad’s home town in Canada was actually the place that he would visit in a few months, he happily shook his hands with Brad and said:”时候提供方便?”

Brad processed the sentence in a flash:(” When I get there could you please offer washroom to go?”) He was a bit hesitated at the ask but was too shy to say no.

Meanwhile, a very beautiful lady sitting accross the table, who was working for public media smiled and asked him:”方便时候不能采访一下你?

(“When you go to washroom, may I interview you?” ) Brad was very surprised at what he heard and didn’t know what to say…

The lady sensed his hesitation and smiled again:”如果不方便, 没关系.”

(“If you don’t want to go to washroom, that’s fine.”) Brad composed himself and smiled back nervously.

The lady continued:”下次方便时候, 过来吃饭?

(“Then next time I go to washroom, will you come to eat?”) …

… ??? …

He finally collapsed …


Distant water will not quench a fire nearby

Some Chinese expressions are very easy to remember just by it’s literal meaning. For example, 远水救不了近火 literally means “water from far away could not put out a close-by fire. ”

You can’t use water from far away to put out fire close-by, can you? No. Therefore this idiom is used to describe the solutions or ways that are far away, no matter how good they are, they can’t help with the urgent situation happening right now.

This expression is widely used in both written and spoken Chinese. As a matter of fact, there are lots of situations that you could use it in. I’ll give you two examples here:

[example 1]

wǒmen xiànzài jíxū yī liàng chēbǎ zhè jiàn wùpǐn sòngzǒu, wǒmen nàxiē yǒu chē de péngyou dōu zhù dé tài yuǎn, yuǎnshuǐjiùbuliǎojìnhuǒ ā!


We desperately need a car to send this item away. Those friends who have vehicles all live far away, xxxx!

[example 2]

” wǒ xiànzài hǎo xiǎng chī jiāxiāng de xiǎochī!”


” wǒmen zhè mǎn jiē dōu shì mài xiǎochī de.”


” kěshì wǒmen gé dé nàme yuǎn, yuǎnshuǐjiùbuliǎojìnhuǒ ā。”


“I miss my home town food so much. “

“We have them sold on the street everywher.”

“But we’re so far away, water from far away could not put out a close-by fire.”

Chinese Dialogue – Asking the Way



When you have a trip or visit to your friends or acquaintances alone, you may come across an unknown or unclear address and you will have to ask the way.

One day, Mike wants to go to Xidan and a warmhearted Beijing girl is telling him the way.



mài kè:


Láo jià, xī dān lí zhèr yuăn bù yuăn?

Mike:Excuse me, is Xidan far from here?

Lì li:

Bĭ jiăo yuăn, qí chē dĕi èr shí wŭ fēn zhōng zuŏ yòu.
丽丽:比较远,骑车得25 分钟左右。
Lili:Yes, quite far. It will take you twenty-five minutes by bicycle.
mài kè:zuò chē fāng biàn ma?
Mike:Is it easy to take a bus?



Lì li:

Hěn fāng biàn, yao zuò qī zhàn chē, xià chē jiù shì.
Lili:Yes, very easy. You just take seven stations to go to Xidan. You can’t miss it.
mài kè:Qĭng wèn dào fŭ yòu jiē yŏu duō yuăn?
Mike:And could you tell me how far is it to Fuyoujie from here?
Lì li:Nín qù xī dān de shí hòu, lù guò fŭ yòu jiē.
Lili:On your way to Xidan, you’ll pass by Fuyoujie.
mài kè:Fŭ yòu jiē dào xī dān yuăn bù yuăn?
Mike: Is it far from Fuyoujie to Xidan?
Lì li:Bù yuăn le, zŏu shí fēn zhōng jiù dào le.
Lili: Not too far, you just need to walk for ten minutes.


1.       问路 wèn lù: ask the way

2.       离 : from

3.       这儿 zhèr: here

4.       远 yuăn: far

5.       劳驾 láo jià: excuse me

6.       坐车 zuò chē: take a bus

7.       方便 fāng biàn: easy

8.       左右 zuŏ yòu: about

9.       比较 bĭ jiăo: quite

10.      路过 lù guò: pass by


Chinese Song—The Radio Love Song

Diàntái qínggē
电 台 情 歌
The Radio Love Song


Shuí nénggòu jiāng tiān shàng yuèliàng diànyuán guān diào
Who can turn off the power of the moon from the sky


Tā bǎ nǐ wǒ chénmò zhào de tài míngliǎo
It reflected the silence between you and me


Guānyū àiqíng wǒmen liǎojiě de tài shǎo
We knew too little about love


Aile yǐhòu yòu bù jué kěkào
I still feel shaky after we felt in love.


Nǐ hé wǒ kàn zhe níhóng
You and I used to watching the neon sigh together


Chuānguòle àiqíng de jiēdào
Walking across the love street


Yǒu zhǒng bù zhēnshí wèidào
Looking back it just seems unreal


Wǒmen yīzhí wàngle yào dā yīzuò qiáo
We have forgotten to built a bridge


Dào duìfāng de xīndǐ qiáoyīqiáo
To take a look what’s in your heart.


Tǐhuì bǐcǐ shímǒ cái zuì xūyào
To find out what we really need for each other


Bié zài jìmò de yōngbào
No more cuddling alone


Shuí nénggòu jiāng diàntái qínggē guān diào
Who can turn off the radio, which is playing a love song


Tā jiāng nǐwǒ xīnshì chàngde tài mǐngǎn
The lyrics makes me too sensitive


Dàng liǎngkēxīn fàng zài gǎnqíng tiānchèng shàng
When there are two hearts on the libra of feeling


Xiǎngle tài duō yòu zuòde tài shǎo
Thinking too much and doing so little


Nǐ hé wǒ yǎngwàng xīngkōng
You and i,looking up at the starlit sky


Zǒudàole àiqíng de biānjiāng
Walking at the edge of love


Yǒu zhǒng bù quèdìng yùgǎn
Having a uncertain feeling


Wǒmen yīzhí wàngle yào dā yīzuò qiáo
We have forgotten to built a bridge


Dào duìfāng de xīndǐ qiáoyīqiáo
To take a look what’s in your heart.


Tǐhuì bǐcǐ shímǒ cái zuì xūyào
To find out what we really need for each other


Bié zài jìmò de yōngbào
No more cuddling alone


Wǒmen yīzhí wàngle yào dā yīzuò qiáo
We have forgotten to built a bridge


Dào duìfāng de xīndǐ qiáoyīqiáo
To take a look what’s in your heart.


Tǐhuì bǐcǐ shímǒ cái zuì xūyào
To find out what we really need for each other


Bié zài jìmò de yōngbào
No more cuddling alone

Steamed Pork with Fermented Bean Curd

1/2 lb(200g) pork, lean and fat,cut in a Square with skin attached
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp scallion sections
1/2 tsp (3g) red fermented rice
1 /2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
1 oz (25g) red fermented bean curd
2 tsp rice wine
1 oz (25g) rock sugar, crushed

Place the pork in boiling water to cover. Drain and wash in hot water. Cut into 1-inch (4cm) squares.

Soak the red fermented rice(红曲米hóngqūmǐ) in a little warm water, crush it, and mix with the fermented bean curd(腐乳fǔrǔ), rock sugar and 1/2 tsp salt into a paste. Coat the pork slices with the paste.

Stack the pork(猪肉zhūròu) slices, skin side down, in a large bowl and pour the rest of the paste over them. Add the scallion, ginger, and rice wine. Cover the bowl tightly with a dish. Place the bowl in a steamer and steam over boiling water for 3 hours over a high fire, adding water when necessary, until the meat becomes very tender. Remove the bowl from the steamer. Discard the scallions and ginger. Cover the bowl with a serving dish and invert both so the pork slides into the dish with the skin side up.

The reason for translating English names into Chinese name



How to translate ?
1.Translation of full name into Chinese name: Most Chinese names have 3 or 2 characters,the first character is the surname and the remaining characters is the first name.Generally, the surname comes before the first name. There are about 100 common Chinese surnames in china that is called “baijiaxing”. If you provide your full name, the closest matching Chinese surname will be choosed. Your name will be translated phonetically into Chinese characters which sound similar.

100 common Chinese surnames+百家姓


2. Phonetic translation of English names: If you provide an English first name, you will translate the name based on the pronunciation in English, and then matching it with similar pronunciation of Chinese characters. Since different Chinese characters have the same pronunciation, you can specify the meaning that you prefer for your translated name and the most appropriate characters will be used whenever possible.


Why more and more people like to transliterate their names into Chinese?
In general, English and Chinese are such remarkably different languages, it is difficult for English words to be written and pronounced in Chinese. To begin, the phonetic systems of Chinese and English are so different that many sounds and sound combinations are not mutually shared. It is really the fact that the writing systems of English and Chinese are different. English has an alphabetic script, which allows for many combinations of individual phonemes and letters. Namely, Chinese employs a logographic script that uses characters to represent both a particular meaning and one whole syllable. As a result, most English names cannot be pronounced or written based on the rules of the Chinese language. This means that rather than pronouncing English names as they are pronounced in English, they are transliterated in order to create rough equivalents that can be written and pronounced in Chinese.


Translate English name to Chinese name on literarily or philosophically: If someone want to adopt a Chinese name, they can choose Chinese characters that resemble their personality, philosophy, wish or fortune. The result does not necessarily resemble the English pronunciation. The first character is the family name, then the given names is the latter. The second and third characters give hint to one’s personality. Sometimes even a close pronunciation in a syllable of an English name can be translate into a Chinese character.


Key word:
汉 字(hàn zì):Chinese characters
百家姓(bǎi jiā xìng):100 common Chinese surnames

Temple Fairs Remain a Firm Favorite

A performer practices crying out his wares as a street vendor at Badachu Park on Feb 9. (Source: China Daily/ Li Jundong)

Despite more and more young people turning their back on tradition, temple fairs remain a favorite event during Spring Festival.

Zhu Changdui, who works for the Postal Savings Bank of China and comes from Ankang, Shannxi province, said he remembers reading about Spring Festival in Beijing when he was young. He recalls reading of children with red cotton-padded jackets running out the hutong to join the temple fairs and see dragons dancing, martial arts performances and people selling traditional snacks.

“In recent years, Spring Festival has not been like the ones when I was little because of the rapid change in society, especially in my hometown,” said the 28-year-old, who added that his relatives like to celebrate the festival by playing mahjong.

“However, I think Beijing has preserved a lot of the old tradition and blended it with the new trends.”

This year will be the first time Zhu has stayed in Beijing during Spring Festival since he settled in the capital four years ago. He said he would like to capture as much of the traditional spirit as possible.

“I plan to visit temple fairs and I have a schedule for them. I think my camera will not have a few days off then,” Zhu joked.

Temple fairs, or miaohui, are said to hail back to ancient days, when farmers would offer new year sacrifices to their village gods. The events developed into marketplaces for goods and ideas, where people would peddle their wares and performers would put on shows.

Temple fairs grew in prominence throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), but essentially evaporated with the founding of New China in 1949, and they were taboo during the “cultural revolution” (1966-76).

The country’s first official temple fair after 1949 was in 1985 at Beijing’s Temple of the Earth (Ditan Park). Now they are once again an important part of the Spring Festival and they continue to evolve.

The carnivals in parks such as Ditan, Tiantan and others with a long history largely remain true to tradition, and they evoke imperial times and folk memories

“Passage to China” to Introduce Dynamic Chinese Culture to the World

Travel host Denise Keller talks about impressive moments of the journey at the launch ceremony in Beijing on Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. [Photo:]

Passage to China is a new Chinese cultural documentary series that follows a half Chinese – half German woman, Denise Keller, to more than ten provinces across China.

The documentary is a joint production by Chinese Ministry of Culture and Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific (DNAP). Host Denise Keller looks for her “Chinese roots” through the course of the journey and personally experiences Chinese culture.

The teams involved with the show met the press at Beijing’s National Library on Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. The first episode will be broadcast on Discovery’s Travel and Living Channel on Feb 21 in 15 languages in 37 countries and regions.

The first three episodes were shot over four-months, showcasing amazing Chinese landscapes and ethnic cultures, said Li Liyan, assistant secretary of the Bureau for External Cultural Relations of the Chinese Ministry of Culture.

Zhang Fang, DNAP senior vice president and general manager in China, said, “China has a very long cultural history. We are excited to explore a unique Chinese culture to the world through the lens.”


Cast and crew members have a group picture.  [Photo:]

Screen shot from “Passage to China” [Photo: DNAP]

筷子 Chopsticks

An organization has drawn up measures to add chopsticks to the Shanghai Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2015.

The move aims to raise awareness regarding the culture behind the use of these utensils, according to Shanghai Chopsticks Culture Promotion Association.

One association authority says chopsticks are increasingly neglected in modern China although they are unique Chinese items.

At least 1.8 billion people currently use chopsticks worldwide.

According to some experts, chopsticks, though small, serve as a means to pass on Chinese civilization.

How much do you know about chopsticks(筷子kuài zi)?

Are you able to use chopsticks while eating Chinese food? To use chopsticks is perhaps the first thing some foreigners must learn in China. Chinese seem to be masters of chopsticks. They can eat slippery dumplings, round glutinous rice dumplings and long-pulled noodles with chopsticks. For some foreigners, such a task can be termed as mission impossible.

The correct way of using chopsticks is simple: use your thumb, index and middle fingers to control the upper stick and hold still the lower stick with your thumb and ring fingers. When you try to take the food, only move the upper chopstick. In this way you can put the food into your mouth. Chopsticks are daily utensils for Chinese. They become a perfect gift item. Elegantly made bamboo chopsticks are well-received gifts that represent steady improvement and good luck.

[yuán] round
[fāng] square
[jiā]    pick up
[péi yǎng] 培养 nurture
[shí jù]     食具 daily utensils

The traditional shape of chopsticks holds the same kaleidoscopic view as Yi or principle of changes. One end of the chopstick is square and the other is round, representing the round sky and square earth. While using chopsticks, some Chinese regard certain ways as taboo. For example, you should not point at others with chopsticks. Or you should not strike the bowl and plate with chopsticks. Do not hold the chopsticks in the mouth. When the food is taken with chopsticks, it should not be put back in the plate. There are certain ways to place chopsticks. Don’t insert chopsticks into the bowl of rice, as it is the ritual at the sacrifices offering ceremony for ancestors. Some people believe chopsticks are the best training utensils. To use them every day can make your fingers nimbler and nurture your brains as well. If you are not able to use chopsticks, you can follow our instructions listed above.