How Do You Say 'Happy New Year' In Chinese, And How Do You Spell It?

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Lucy Burroughs Profile
Lucy Burroughs answered
How To Say "Happy New Year" In Mandarin Chinese:

  • Xīn Nián Kuài Lè (traditional characters: 新年快樂; simplified characters: 新年快乐)
If you're not familiar with Chinese characters and pronunciation, watching this video will be really helpful if you want to say "Happy New Year" in Chinese:


The video also demonstrates how to say "Happy New Year" in Cantonese, the other most widely-used Chinese dialect.

Red Envelopes

Red envelopes containing money are given out to unmarried juniors - from young children to adults - at Chinese New Year. The amount of money in the envelope is typically an even number, as giving out an odd amount of money is common practice at funerals. This practice is similar to the Western tradition of giving birthday and Christmas cards containing money. 

Below is an expression used by Chinese children who have become familiar with receiving these red envelopes:
  • 喜發財,紅包拿來 / Gōngxǐ fācái, hóngbāo nálái: Happy New Year, now give me a red envelope!
This expression does not please the children's parents, because it is not considered good manners to ask for a gift!
Melody Gong Profile
Melody Gong answered


The most common I have heard is

  恭喜发财 gōng xǐ fā cái

Which is a wish of a prosperous coming year. This is very common in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but I heard that it was frowned upon by the communists on the mainland, since it is a wish that does not align very well with communistic ideals.

One story I read related to this is that there was a legend about a monster called 年 (nian2) that would come down from the mountains around new year and eat people. He is afraid of the colour red, so that's why people would put up red paper on and around their doors. The following morning, when you see someone, you would greet them with 恭喜!; 'Congratulations (to still being alive)!', and then wish that they will 发财; 'get rich', i.e. Will have a fruitful and prosperous year ahead.

In Taiwan there is a playful childrens' rhyme related to this. The tradition is that adults give children (without an income of their own) red envelopes with cash, 红包. So the adult says "恭喜发财" and the child immediately (and greedily) replies "红包拿来"; 'Give me the red envelope'.

Source:
http://www.hanbridgemandarin.com/article/daily-chinese-learning-tips/happy-new-year-in-chinese

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