When fancy red-colored designs start to take over the streets in Chinatown and elsewhere, everyone is excited about the different Chinese New Year festivities. Chinese New Year is an annual celebration that signifies the coming of a new era in the middle of the winter season. That’s the reason why it is also known as the chunjie (春节) or the Spring Festival. It runs up to 15-16 days, it is celebrated all over China and its neighboring countries including the whole world due to the adamant migration and influence of the Chinese.
Traditionally, Chinese New Year is a time to honor their deities as well as their ancestors. Through time, it has evolved to become a traditional family dinner reunion accompanied with the thorough cleaning of their houses in order to sweep away any ill fortune and to make way for incoming good luck, and decorating their windows and doors with red paper-cuts and couplets. Popular themes among these paper cuts and couplets include that of good fortune or happiness, wealth, and longevity.
Due to the various regional customs, languages, and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year, it is celebrated in various ways and so with the way they greet each other. Cantonese is one of the most predominant languages in China. The Cantonese-speaking people are the ones who live in the Southern part of China and the language is also used by the ones who are living in Macau, Hongkong, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Happy New Year in Cantonese is 新年快樂 (san nin faai lok), they use this greeting every New Year (新年) and Chinese New Year (農曆新年).
Here are the 8 popular ways to greet your friends and relatives on a Chinese New Year in Cantonese. Memorize these Cantonese phrases for a higher chance to get more red envelopes this new year!
Meaning: Wishing you wealth and prosperity
It is one of the most famous phrases that you can easily hear when you're walking from the streets. It is a widely used Chinese New Year greeting of Cantonese-speaking people in different communities around the world, “gong hei faat choy” is usually the first thing that’s said when Chinese people greet one another during Chinese New Year. It is usually followed by a genuine wish – “sun tai gin hong” (身體健康), that means ‘Stay healthy’. Use “gong hei faat choy” when you greet your friends and relatives on Chinese New Year for a prosperous year ahead.
Meaning: Whatever the heart desires will happen
What a lovely way to greet someone in Cantonese during the Chinese New Year if they are passionately doing their best and working hard for their dreams and wishes through this phrase. A simple greeting such as “sum seung si sing” can be a powerful motivator that affirms your trust and support as you remind them to keep hustling and grinding until their dreams and wishes are fulfilled. Don’t forget to smile when you greet your friends and relatives ‘Sum Seung Si Sing’.
Meaning: Good luck and may things go smoothly
Every time you greet someone with this phrase, you have to accompany your greetings with images of tangerines because the second character “gut” (吉) means tangerines which is often placed beside the word “le” (利) which means luck. This phrase is also one of the easiest to write among the Cantonese New Year greetings. Look at the characters and try to scribble them down on a plain sheet of paper.
Meaning: May wealth roll in
This Chinese New Year greeting in Cantonese is perfect to use in a work setting intended for your boss and well-deserved colleagues who are doing their best to excel in their respective fields. This is for everyone who’s working hard to earn more and celebrate life. At the end of the day, Chinese New Year can be celebrated anywhere with everyone. Use this greeting as you commend a diligent workmate.
Meaning: As full of energy as a horse
“Lung ma jing sun” is intended for the 'young once’, the elderly people, every Chinese New Year to bless them with great energy and stamina. They always look forward to being greeted with this to feel young, if you are lucky enough this can be a good way to receive lai see (利是) or the famous red envelopes containing surprises. Take note of this Chinese New Year greeting in Cantonese as you enjoy your time with the elderly.
Meaning: Improvement in studies
This Chinese New Year greeting in Cantonese is perfect for the students. It’s a great way to inspire them by saying “Hok yip jun bou” as it expresses blessings and best wishes for them to do well in their academics. The core of the Chinese New Year celebration is to spend time with family. If you know a Cantonese-speaking student studying abroad and spending Chinese New Year away from their family, greet them with ‘hok yip jun bou’ to counter homesickness.
Meaning: Everything goes your way.
As you look forward to a beautiful year ahead, this Chinese New Year greeting in Cantonese will greatly flatter one’s heart. How amazing will it be when all of your plans will go the way you want them to be. So, spread happiness and hope as you wish someone a happy Chinese New Year with this greeting ‘wàn shì rú yì’.
Meaning: Happy Spring Festival
Since Chinese New Year is celebrated every Spring season, it became well-known as the Spring Festival in mainland China. So, you can greet each other with ‘tsun zit fai lok’ which literally means “Happy Spring Festival. You can start with this Chinese New Year greeting in Cantonese then lengthen your greeting using the other phrases mentioned above, the most important thing is to carry a beautiful smile every time you wish someone a ‘tsun zit fai lok’.
We hope you enjoy learning about New Year greetings in Cantonese! Cantonese is just one of the languages in China and memorizing these Cantonese phrases will surely make your celebration of Chinese New Year memorable. Practice as early as now to perfect your Cantonese tone and pronunciation in preparation for the upcoming Chinese New Year. Have fun while learning the language, try using the Ling app.