How to Wish a Happy Chinese New Year

How to Wish a Happy Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year marks the beginning of the traditional Chinese calendar and is celebrated throughout East Asia and the Chinese diaspora. With this event on the horizon, here’s a complete guide on how to wish someone a happy Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year is often celebrated with the exchange of lucky red envelopes containing a monetary gift but greeting cards have become popular as a way to spread good wishes as well. We’ll be going through what to write in a Chinese New Year card, and letting you know some popular greetings in both Mandarin and Cantonese.

Plus, we’ll show you how you can make your Chinese New Year card extra fantastic right here at Boomf, including a range of exploding cards to capture the excitement of many a fizzling firecracker. But first, let’s learn a bit more about how this amazing event is celebrated.

How is Chinese New Year Celebrated?

While many areas of Chinese society use the Gregorian calendar (as many other countries, including the UK, do), the traditional Chinese calendar still holds an important place in Chinese life, marking holidays and other special occasions.

In the traditional calendar, Chinese New Year begins on the Lunar New Year. This means that exactly when it happens depends on the moon. That’s why the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably and why the exact date of the festival changes from year to year.

In East Asia, the first day of Chinese New Year is commonly called the Spring Festival. Unlike some countries – where New Year’s is one big night of celebration – festivities can continue for fifteen days! Here are just some of the different things that happen in Chinese households while Chinese New Year runs its course:

  • Before the New Year begins, Chinese families often do a thorough clean of their homes.
  • Families will come together to share a meal – the reunion dinner – on the day before the New Year starts.
  • Firecrackers and fireworks are often set off on the day of the Spring Festival, the first day of Chinese New Year, to ward off evil spirits.
  • Lion dances, in which people puppet a magnificent lion costume, are also often performed on the first day.
  • Red! You’ll see the colour red everywhere, in paper decorations, lanterns and those lucky red envelopes – what does it represent? Good luck, of course!

Popular Chinese New Year Greetings

It’s always nice to wish someone a happy New Year in their own language. But before you go ahead and learn how to greet someone on Chinese New Year, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • First, there are hundreds of Chinese dialects! We’ll be looking at standard Mandarin, the official national language of China, and Cantonese, which is spoken mostly in Hong Kong and Macau, as well as being common in some Chinese immigrant communities.
  • Mandarin, Cantonese, and many other East Asian languages use different tones in their spoken sentences to create different meanings. Just reading a version of a sentence written in the English alphabet might not sound right to native ears.
  • So how do we fix that? If you want to get your pronunciation just right, check out how a Chinese speaker would say it. There are plenty of helpful tutorials online!

New Year’s Greetings in Mandarin and Cantonese

With those top tips in mind, let’s point you in the direction of a few popular greetings, with a loose pronunciation guide for English speakers. We’ll start with how to wish someone a happy Chinese New Year.

  • Happy Chinese New Year - Mandarin
  • xīn nián kuài lè (新年快乐) - sshin neeyen kwhy-ler 

    Top tip: the accent marks represent the different tones, Mandarin has four (or five including neutral)! 

  •  Happy Chinese New Year (Informal) - Mandarin
  • xīnnián hǎo (新年好) - sshin neeyen haoww

  • Happy Chinese New Year – Cantonese
  • san ninh faai lohk (新年快樂) – sun nin fai lok

  • Wishing you prosperity! - Mandarin
  • gōng xǐ fā cái (恭喜发财) gong sshee faa-tseye

  • Wishing you prosperity! – Cantonese 
  • gong hay fat choy (恭喜发财) – gong hei fat choy

    Top tip: this is one of the most common Chinese New Year’s greetings for Cantonese speakers.

    What to Write in a Lunar New Year Card

    As mentioned earlier, the Lunar New Year marks the start of the often fifteen-day-long Chinese New Year celebrations. You can write your own thoughtful good wishes in our fantastic cards here at Boomf, as each of our exciting card types allows for a personalised message.

    If you’re unsure of what to write, feel free to use some of the phrases above for inspiration. It’s also worth bearing in mind that many Chinese New Year celebrations involve the god of wealth, and hopes of prosperity and fortune are reflected in the red and gold used in decorating. Your message could be along those lines.

    Overall, we’d advise keeping it simple. With close friends and family, you can take a more casual approach. For bosses, a simple wish of prosperity and good fortune in the coming year is a good way to go. 

    How to Wish a Friend a Happy Chinese New Year

    A good way to wish happy Chinese New Year to a friend is by saying Xīnnián hǎo – this is the popular, more casual way of saying ‘happy New Year’, serving as a seasonal substitute for the common greeting nǐ hǎo – ‘hello’! You’ll find a rough pronunciation guide in our list of popular greetings above.

    How to Create a Chinese New Year Greeting Card

    You can easily create a fantastic Chinese New Year greeting card right here on Boomf! We’re all about taking your gift-giving experience to the next level, whatever the occasion. With our easy-to-use online personalisation tool and amazing custom card types, you’ll have everything you need to create the perfect Chinese New Year greeting card. Here’s some ideas on how to get started:

    Choosing Your Design 

    We’ve got a range of fantastic designs for you to choose from on Boomf, all lovingly created by our team of independent artists. Here’s some top tips for picking out the perfect design:

    • Chinese New Year is a time of celebration but is also rich in tradition and reflection. We’d go for something that captures these important themes, with refined designs that, of course, use plenty of red.
    • Chinese characters may also make for a wonderful addition and the colour of gold, signifying wealth and prosperity, frequently come into play as well. 
    • You can also add your own designs or photos to all of our cards. Our standard card types – which can be modified into dramatic Ta-Dah cards, beautiful Flutter cards, or exciting, adorable Wild cards – will feature your image front and centre. 

    Picking Out Your Card Type 

    Now that you have a design or photo in mind, it’s time to pick out a card type from our amazing, affordable range. Here’s what we have on offer:

  • Standard cards 

  • Our standard cards are made of high-quality material with a brilliant-looking finish and come in two sizes: 144x144mm or 210x210mm.

  • Ta-Dah cards

  • The first in our range of confetti cards, our Ta-Dah cards are a simple modification of our standard designs but feature a concealed pouch of confetti which bursts upward upon opening, with all the excitement of a New Year’s firecracker.

  • Confetti Cannons

  • These rectangular cards share the shape of a lucky red envelope and flipping open reveals a personalised message amidst an awesome confetti shower.

  • Boomf Bombs

  • Perhaps our most popular card, and certainly most famous, our Boomf Bombs burst open with an exciting confetti explosion, revealing a custom cube adorned with jubilant designs and your own photos.

  • Flutter Cards

  • These magical cards eject a beautiful butterfly upon opening. Butterflies have their own significant meaning in Chinese culture and while they may not be a perfect fit for Chinese New Year, we do recommend them for other occasions.

  • Wild Cards

  • These exciting pop-up cards burst open, ejecting an adorable figurine. Our loveable characters include a dragon (a popular motif during Chinese New Year), a monkey, or a panda, which each have their own cultural significance in China as well. 

    Writing Your Message

    We’ve listed some top tips above for what to write for Chinese New Year greetings! All our cards come with space for you to write a custom message and you’ll be able to edit the font, colour, and size of the text so that your card is beautiful inside and out.

    • With our standard, Ta-Dah, Wild and Flutter cards, your message can be written on the inside pages, as you would with a traditional card.
    • With our confetti Cannons, they appear below your image or design.
    • With our Boomf Bombs, your message appears at the top of the photo cube.

    Wrapping Up

    That’s absolutely everything you need to know about putting together the perfect greetings card for Chinese New Year. We hope you’ve learned a bit more about this wonderful holiday along the way, and perhaps even know how to wish someone a happy Chinese New Year in Mandarin - 新年快乐!