8 traditional Chinese New Year greetings to learn in 2022

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Also known as Lunar New Year (农历新年 nóng lì xīn nián) or Spring Festival ( 春节 chūn jié), Chinese New Year – the time to wish people wealth and good fortune – is nearly upon us.

While the world’s celebrations might still be a little subdued this year, we still know them for their abundance of colour, traditional lion dances, food and live music. 

But for Chinese people the 15-day-long festivities (this year falling between 1-15 February 2022) is also the most important time in the lunar calendar, and carries special significance for the year ahead.

This is because each new year is named after one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. 

Each animal carries a special meaning. 2022 is the Year of the Tiger, the third animal in the 12-year cycle.

What tiger personality traits can we expect to see in 2022?

Hong Kong based Chinese and Western Astrologer Jupiter Lai predicts that 2022 will be “very different” from the soft, slow and passive 2021, the Year of the Ox. According to Lai, the Year of the Tiger will inspire confidence – and more feisty reactions to adversity.

“This year, people are gaining back some vitality and strength,” Lai says. “They are more determined to achieve their goals.”

This is undoubtedly good news – especially after the year or two that the world has faced! Though proceed with caution: Lai also highlights the tiger’s fierce hunting instinct, which could generate competition and conflict.

What popular Chinese New Year traditions should you know about?

Preparing Hóng Bāo (红包)

Chinese New Year customs vary across China, but you’re almost always guaranteed to see Hong Bao (red packets) around.

This tradition sees people stuffing red envelopes with cash to be exchanged at every meeting during the Chinese New Year. 

Now, there’s a couple of rules to remember: if you’re married, you must be the generous one and hand a little red packet over to others. 

But if you’re single, you’re eligible to receive them – so if you’re single and ready to mingle, your wallet might thank you for putting any serious hot dates on hold until the festivities are over!

One last thing: if a little kid comes up to you, all wide-eyed and cute, it’s your choice whether or not to part with your money (though arguably the most sporting thing to do just be to hand over the Hong Bao!).

Dining on the eve of the new year

Another custom across China is to be home for dinner before the new year arrives. This is an event you won’t want to miss, as the new year is usually celebrated with loads of traditional food, the exchanging of red packets, and even a bit of gambling!

As you watch the countdown on TV make sure you tune into the Spring Festival National Programme Chūn Wǎn (春晚). It’s the most watched show of the year!

And once the TV is turned off (and the gambling has calmed down), it’s normally time to crack out the 麻将 má jiàng Majong tiles. This is a popular Chinese game, played by four people at a time (although expect a lot of advice from others around the table)!

Wish friends and family wealth and good fortune with these 8 Chinese New Year greetings

These four-charater-long Chinese idioms are clever fellows: you can pair up these phrases to form longer Chinese New Year wishes. But whether you choose to say one or two at a time, all variations have a positive meaning behind them.

1. 新年快乐 Xīn nián kuài lè (Happy New Year) 

2. 恭喜发财 Gōng xǐ fā cái (Wishing you wealth and prosperity in Chinese), or Gong Hei Fa Choi (Happy New Year in Cantonese)

3. 财源滚滚 Cái yuán gǔn gǔn (May wealth come pouring in) 

4. 年年有余 Nián nián yǒu yú (May you have abundance every year)

5. 心想事成 Xīn xiǎng shì chéng (May all your wishes come true)

6. 万事如意 Wàn shì rú yì (May everything go as you wish)

7. 虎年大吉 Hǔ nián dà jí (Wishing you luck in the Year of the Tiger)

8. 虎虎生威 Hǔ hǔ shēng wēi (Wishing you fullness of the vigour and vitality of the tiger)

So, that’s all from us. Make sure you’ve got your Lunar New Year wishes down, your red envelopes stuffed, the TV powered up and you’re ready to go!

新年快乐


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Emma was a French Language Expert at Busuu. Originally from London, U.K, Emma moved to Brighton to study Anthropology and Languages (French and Spanish) and later spent time living on the French overseas department, La Réunion. In her spare time she loves travel and culture, crochet, cooking and singing!