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Learn Your Blessings For Chinese New Year

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Jessica Tryde- Local Fitness Nut

Chinese New Year – my favorite festivity! It’s a time of clashing chopsticks, red-pocket wars and pandemonium. Okay – I may be exaggerating, but in my family, it’s somewhat true! Families are united by dinner tables inundated with scrumptious Chinese dishes, with non-married members waiting to receive their red pockets, or “lai-see” envelopes.

But more so – it’s really a time of greetings and spreading positivity among friends and family. Don’t fret just yet – even if you’re not from Hong Kong, you can still learn some basic Chinese New Year greetings!

Now – here comes the tricky bit. There are greetings for a range of categories – from work to health, family to prosperity. Sometimes, certain greetings are more appropriate than others, depending on who you’re with.

If you’re at a dinner table surrounded by business men, I wouldn’t exactly go for the “wishing you a year of beauty” greeting. Awkward.

So let’s break it down. There’s no rule to how many greetings you are supposed to say – but you always start with the basic, followed by a more specific greeting. So let’s begin:

You’ll always start with “wish you” or “bless you” which is:

(Cantonese: Juk Nei; Mandarin: Zhu Ni)


新年快樂 – Happy New Year

(Cantonese: Sun Lin Fai Lok; Mandarin: Xīn nián kuài lè)

心想事成 – May all your wishes come true

(Cantonese: Sum Seung Si Sing; Mandarin: Xīn xiǎng shì chéng)

恭喜發財 – May you be prosperous and happy*

(Cantonese: Gung Hei Fat Choy; Mandarin: Gong xi fa cai)

*After receiving a red pocket, it is polite to respond with this greeting.


恭喜發財 (May you be prosperous and happy)
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馬到成功 – Achieve instant success

(Cantonese: Ma Dou Sing Gong; Mandarin: Mǎ dào chéng gōng)

年年有餘 – Surplus, year after year

(Cantonese: Lin Lin Yao Yu; Mandarin: Nián nián yǒu yú)

馬到成功 – Achieve instant success

馬到成功 (Achieve instant success)
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龍馬精神 – May you have the vigorous spirit of the Dragon-Horse

(Cantonese: Long Ma Jing Sun; Mandarin: Lóng mǎ jīng shén)

身體健康 – Wish you good health

(Cantonese: Sun Tai Geen Hong; Mandarin: Shēn tǐ jiàn kāng)

青春美麗 – May you only be more young and beautiful*

(Cantonese: Tsing Chun Mei Lai; Mandarin: Qīng Chūn Měi Lì)

*Appropriate for women only


龍馬精神 (May you have the vigorous spirit of the Dragon-Horse)
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For friends and family you are very familiar with, there’s a common greeting-joke rhyme you can say: (differs in Mandarin and Cantonese but the meaning is exactly the same)

May you be prosperous and happy, now where’s my red envelope!

恭喜發財 利是逗來 (Cantonese: Gong Hei Fat Choi Lai See Dao Loi)

恭喜發財 紅包拿來 (In Mandarin: Gong Xi Fa Cai Hong Bao Na Lai)

Now the freedom is all yours – mix and match to your heart’s content (but make sure you say the right greeting for the right situation!)
JessicaTrydeJessica Tryde, born in Australia, bred in Taiwan, is a creative English copywriter living in Hong Kong. Her job includes whipping out creative ideas and digital executions. During her spare time, you’ll find her weight lifting in the gym, training for a gladiatorial bloodbath in a Muay Thai class or attempting to perform a yoga pose. If not working out, you’ll find her mingling with the locals at the wet market or reading at a local Hong Kong café.