Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, is the beginning of a brand new year in the lunar calendar, which falls on February 10 this year. The celebration of the new lunar year represents fresh beginnings, during which good luck is accumulated for the rest of the year through ritual practices as well as the exchange of verbal blessings and gifts exchanged between loved ones.

In Hong Kong and China, the festival is celebrated over 15 days, during which relatives and friends engage in baai nin (拜年, bai nian in Mandarin). Baai means the respectful clasp of one hand over a fist in front of your chest, and together with nin, meaning year, refers to the activity of visiting a friend or family’s home to exchange gifts and good wishes for the new year. Here, learn the Chinese New Year phrases you can say in Cantonese and Mandarin to wish others luck in the new year and how to respond to other’s blessings.

See also
Chinese New Year: History, Dates, Zodiac And Traditions

Chinese New Year greetings in Cantonese, Mandarin & English

Discover the most common greetings people will use in Hong Kong during the Lunar New Year.

Lunar New Year Greetings in Cantonese
Chinese New Year greetings in English and Cantonese (© The HK HUB)

These new year greetings are thoughtfully arranged in order of priority. The most essential Chinese New Year phrases, suitable for almost everyone, are placed at the top. As you move down the list, the quotes become more specific, wishing others luck in whatever venture or life path they are pursuing.

Other than the Cantonese pronunciations, we have also included Chinese New Year wishes in Mandarin, as well as their meanings in English, for your reference.

EnglishCantoneseMandarinChinese characters
(name), I wish you…
(prefix to the following wishes)
zuk neizhù nín祝您…
(name), I hope you…
(a more casual prefix to the following wishes)
hei mong neixīwàng nǐ希望你…
Happy new yearsun nin fai lokxīn nián kuài lè新年快樂
Wish you prosperitygong hei fat choygong xi fat chai恭喜發財
Wish you good healthsun tai gin hongshēn tǐ jiàn kāng身體健康
Wish you good luckdai gat dai leidàjí dàlì大吉大利
May all your wishes come truesum seung si singxīn xiǎng shì chéng心想事成
Wish you a happy familyhap ga hang fukhé jiā xìng fú闔家幸福
Wish you stay young alwaysching cheun seung jyuqīngchūn cháng zhù青春常駐
Wish that you get everything you wantmaan si yu yiwàn shì rú yì萬事如意
Wish you progress in your studieshok yip jun boxuéxí jìnbù學業進步
Wish you success in your studieshok yip yau singxuéyè yǒuchéng學業有成
Wish your work goes smoothlygung zok sun leigōngzuò shùnlì工作順利
Wish you surplus wealth every yearnin nin yau yunián nián yǒuyú年年有餘
Wish you have many sources of wealthchoi yun gwong jeuncáiyuán guǎng jìn財源廣進
Wish you have a lot of businesssang yi hing lungshēngyì xīnglóng生意興隆
Wish your venture would end successfullyma dou gung singmǎ dào gōngchéng馬到功成
family members wish each other chinese new year
Hands are respectfully clasped when wishing others a Happy New Year (© Kzenon via Canva)
See also
Your Complete Guide To Giving Lai See (Red Envelopes) During Chinese New Year

As we step into the Year of the Dragon, known as the most majestic and mighty creature in the Chinese zodiac, why not make your Chinese New Year quotes extra special by including the dragon in them?

EnglishCantoneseMandarinChinese characters
Wish you have the strong spirit of dragons and horseslung maa zing sanlóng mǎ jīng shén龍馬精神
Wish you as lively and energetic as dragons and tigerssang lung wut fushēng lóng huó hǔ生龍活虎
Wish you prosperity brought by the dragon and the phoenixlung fung ching cheunglóng fèng chéng xiáng龍鳳呈祥
Wish you a big promotion, just like a fish leaping over the dragon gateyu yeuk lung munyú yuè lóng mén魚躍龍門
Wish you good luck in the year of the dragon.lung nin haang daai wanlóng nián xíng dàyùn龍年行大運

When it comes to Chinese New Year blessings, the more, the merrier! You can combine some of these; for example, “Happy new year and good health!” (zuk nei sun nin fai lok, sun tai gin hong), “Happy new year and happy family!” (zuk nei sun nin fai lok, hop gah heung fook), and “Happy new year and may you get everything you desire!” (sun nin fai lok, maan si yu yi) are very common combos of Chinese New Year quotes.

Concerning what to say specifically during the exchange of red envelopes, check out our guide to lai see etiquette.

See also
12 Lunar New Year Flowers, Plants, Trees & Their Meanings In Chinese Culture

Chinese New Year sayings & what to avoid

lucky round chinese new year fruits
Lucky fruits are consumed and displayed during the Lunar New Year (© iPandastudio via Canva)

It is believed that what is done during the 15-day lunar new year celebration sets the tone for the rest of one’s year. Certain sayings guide one in how to avoid bad luck during this energetically sensitive period. (All of the following Romanizations are the Cantonese pronunciation.)

  1. Don’t cut pears, eat them whole. The Chinese word for ‘cut pear’ sounds like the word “separate” (fun lei, 分離) and could lead to separation between friends or couples. On the other hand, round fruits like oranges and apples symbolize good luck and togetherness and are eaten in abundance during this time.
  2. Don’t buy books. The Chinese word for “book” (shu, 書) is the same character for the word “lose” and could lead to losing in gambling.
  3. Be aware that it’s easy to get into arguments on the third day of the new year. The saying lin cho sam chek hau, 年初三 赤口), meaning “third day of the New Year, red mouth.” Arguing during this time could bring similar energy into the rest of the year.
  4. Don’t buy shoes. The Chinese word for shoes sounds like the exasperated sigh “hai”, (唉) and you could bring frustration on yourself for the rest of the year.
  5. Don’t wash your hair on the first day of the new year, or you’ll wash away your good luck.
  6. Clean your house up until the lunar new year, then don’t clean your house for the first few days of the new year, or you’ll sweep away your wealth.
See also
13 Lunar New Year Foods & Snacks That Brings Luck In The New Year

Header image credits: szeyuen via Canva

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