The Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) is almost here! The Year of the Tiger will begin on February 1, 2022. China also has a public holiday from January 31 to February 6. Which Chinese words about Chinese New Year do you need to know to wish your Chinese friends a happy new year?
How will Chinese people celebrate Chinese New Year in 2022? Here are 10 Chinese words about Chinese New Year traditions and celebrations. Learn these vocabulary words and Chinese culture at the same time!
春节 Chūnjié: The Lunar New Year/Spring Festival
Chinese speakers will often refer to the New Year as 春节 Chūnjié, or Spring Festival. You will see these characters all across China as the new year is celebrated.
Because of the emphasis on “spring,” you may also see street lamps and signs decorated with colorful flowers, lanterns, or banners.
春运 Chūnyùn: Chinese New Year travel
Chinese New Year is a time when Chinese families travel to their home towns and ancestral villages. All generations of a family, from the eldest great-grandparent to the tiniest cousin, gather together over meals, firecrackers, and laughter long into the night.
Of course, so many people traveling back home at once means train stations and airports are packed around this time of year. According to CNN, in 2019, there were 3 billion trips made over the Chinese New Year by car, train, and airplane!
Unfortunately, because of Covid-19 restrictions in China, the past few years have seen a decrease in 春运 chūnyùn as people can’t go back home.
拜年 bàinián: Pay a visit to on the New Year
After traveling to their hometowns, Chinese people will 拜年 bàinián and visit their relatives’ homes to say hello, exchange gifts, and catch up on the events of the past year. It’s important to not forget anybody in your family, even distant cousins!
红包 hóngbāo: Red Envelopes
After families 拜年 bàinián and exchange New Year’s greetings, you might see grandparents hand their grandchildren beautiful red envelopes. These lucky red envelopes are filled with cash, a traditional new year’s gift from the older generation to the younger.
对联 duìlián: Couplets (on the door)
Before you enter a Chinese person’s house, you may notice red signs around the door with Chinese characters. These beautiful posters are called “couplets:” two lines of a poem paired together that represent luck and good wishes for the New Year.
You might see couplets like this one:
- 好年好景好运气 good year good condition good fortune
多财多福多吉利 more wealth more happiness more lucky
除夕 Chúxī: Lunar New Year’s Eve
January 31, 2022, is Chinese New Year’s/Lunar New Year’s Eve. On this day, expect to feast long into the night, eat delicious traditional foods, and stay up late to welcome the New Year!
虎年 hǔnián: Year of the Tiger
2022 is the Year of the Tiger. This year, we will celebrate the tiger’s beauty, grace, power, and ferocity!
春节联欢晚会 Chūnjié Liánhuān Wǎnhuì: CCTV New Year’s Gala
While eating New Year’s dinner, Chinese families will probably have the TV turned on to the 春节联欢晚会 Chūnjié Liánhuān Wǎnhuì. This famous TV program hosts China’s biggest celebrities, actors, and singers to ring in the New Year with songs, games, skits, and traditional performances.
开门炮 kāiménpào: New Year’s Firecrackers
At midnight, when the old year ends and the new year begins, Chinese families will set off firecrackers outside, filling the air with loud cracks and fluttering red paper. This tradition has a mythical meaning: lighting firecrackers will scare off demons and bad luck, leaving room for good luck and prosperity in the New Year.
吊钟花 diàozhōnghuā: fuchsia (New Year flower)
This stunning flower will be used all across China to decorate. Its lively, bright color transforms the winter landscape into a harbinger of spring.
五福临门 wǔfúlínmén: May the 5 Blessings descend on your home
How can you politely wish your host a blessed new year? You can wish them 五福临门 wǔfúlínmén, and hope that the five blessings of longevity, wealth, health, virtue, and a natural death come into the home.
年年有余 niánniányǒuyú: Have an abundant year
Another New Year’s greeting, you can wish for your hosts to have a new year full of wealth and prosperity with this phrase.
元宵 yuánxiāo: Lantern Festival
This is the last day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebration, which is celebrated on February 15, 2022. This day marks the first full moon of the new Lunar year. Celebrated by hanging colorful lanterns, eating tangyuan (sweet rice balls), and watching dragon and lion dances, the Lantern Festival is a beautiful end to the holiday season.
灯谜 dēngmí: Lantern Riddles
One final test before you can enter the New Year: can you solve the lantern riddles? A common Chinese tradition is to write riddles and puzzles on the 元宵 yuánxiāo holiday lanterns for everyone to try and solve.
Try to solve these lantern riddles! (The answers are underneath the photos, so don’t scroll down until you guessed!)
- It’s been around for millions of years, but it’s no more than a month old. What is it? 存在百万年，但只有一个月大。Cúnzài bǎi wàn nián, dàn zhǐyǒu yīgè yuè dà.
- This lovely maiden eats no meat but eats leaves. She labors each day spinning and weaving for the benefit of others. Who is she? 只吃叶子不吃肉，每天劳作只为人们吐丝和编织。Zhǐ chī yèzi bù chī ròu, měitiān láozuò zhǐ wéi rénmen tǔ sī hé biānzhī.
- What building has the most stories? 哪个建筑里的故事最多？Nǎge jiànzhú lǐ de gùshì zuìduō?
Here are the answers!
- The moon (it “disappears” every month during the new moon)
- A silkworm
- A library