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How do you say Happy New Year in Chinese? – Linda tries out a few phrases in Mandarin and Cantonese

Happy Lunar New Year, everyone! Say goodbye to the Year of the Rat, which felt more like the Year of Groundhog Day.

Welcome, Year of the Ox

Some traditional ways of bringing in the new year include thoroughly cleaning the house from roof to basement; preparing delicious handmade foods; letting off strings of firecrackers; going to see the Lion Dances; and inviting the entire family mob over to celebrate. And eating. Lots and lots of eating.

Hmmm. What can I do this year to mark the occasion? I know! I’ll try learning a few ways to say Happy New Year. In Chinese. In this video, I’ll share a few phrases in Mandarin and Cantonese, and then share my big news. (If you’d like to see the transcript, it is below the video.)


Hey everyone, it’s Linda Yip of Past Presence and today is Friday, February 12, 2021. It’s Chinese New Year!

Now when I grew up, the phrase that I remember from childhood is “GONG HEY FAT CHOI” which, while it is a positive greeting that Chinese people do wish one another, especially my family, Cantonese families, it actually doesn’t mean Happy New Year.

It means… well actually, we’ll get to that.

So readers of my blog and viewers of my videos will know I am not a native Chinese speaker of any language; however, my family did speak Chinese and I grew up hearing it, and so I thought it might be fun to test my ability to hear and repeat Chinese phrases for you. I’m going to give you three ways to say “Happy New Year” in Mandarin and in Cantonese and…yeah… let’s have a listen.

Our first phrase is “New year happiness!” in Mandarin: “SHIN-NYEN-KWHY-LER.”

In Cantonese: “SEN-NIN-FEYE-LOR.” So that was “New year happiness!”

Next we’ll go on to “New year goodness! ” in Mandarin: “SSHIN-NYEN-HAOWW”.

Now in Cantonese: “SEN-NIN-HAOW.” “New year goodness!”

Now, “Pass the new year well,” in Mandarin. “GWOR-NYEN-HAOWW.”

And in Cantonese: “GWOR-NIN-HAOW.” OK, so that was “Pass the new year well.”

And so to wrap it up let’s just contrast that with the one that I do know, except I’m going to try it in Mandarin and in Cantonese: “Happiness and prosperity to all.” In Mandarin: “GONG-SSHEE-FAA-TSEYE.”

[and in Cantonese]: “GONG-HEY-FAA-CHWHY.”

One final thing: I wasn’t able to find any recording of “Happy New Year,” in Hoy Sun Wah or Taishanese and if anyone has a recording of that I would love to hear it.

A very big announcement…

I have huge news! Huge!

Just in time for Chinese New Year, I would like to announce the release of a work that has taken me years of drafting. Readers of my blog will know that I explore Chinese genealogy from a non-Chinese speaking perspective and the more I’ve been exploring over the past almost four years on the blog, the more people have been coming to me with their excellent questions asking about, well, the basics.

You know it’s like in genealogy the name is where we start.

You plunk in your name into whatever database / search engine and you go from there and documents pop up… except that for us who perhaps have a name that isn’t the name – you know it’s actually a proxy for the name in another language – a Chinese name – where are the resources for us?

There are so many wonderful resources out there for people who speak Chinese and there is surprisingly little for people who don’t, and so that’s where I am very excited to show you my new handbook, “Getting started in Chinese genealogy.”

It is written for students who are just getting curious about Chinese genealogy for the very first time and know nothing about how you do it, to the more advanced genealogist or family historian who has been searching for years but perhaps would just like to cover some of the basics. Or it’s for if you know you have younger family members and you’d really like to talk to them a little bit about where the mass of Chinese migration came from in about the century 1850 to 1949.

And the difference between Sze Yup and Sam Yup and what all that means for genealogy.

I hope you will enjoy the book. I know that I really enjoyed writing it and I will be using it as the basis for some lecturing. (I will be doing some teaching coming up in the summertime but there will be more on that later.)

In the meantime from all of us here at Past Presence and from me, Linda Yip, I am wishing you “SEN-NIN-HAOW,” (New Year Goodness!) and “GONG HEI FAT CHOI” (Wealth and Prosperity)!

Bye for now.

… My new book!!

Find my new book, Getting started in Chinese genealogy: a family historian’s step by step guide (even if you don’t speak or read Chinese) on sale now.

In celebration of the Lunar New Year, the book is on sale at 50% off for one week only. Sale ends February 19, 2021.

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