Greetings and Hand Gestures for the Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is on January 29th, 2006. It’s the Year of the Dog.

The Chinese New Year is called Sun Lean in Cantonese.

To wish each other a Happy New Year, the Chinese characters are ę?­å–œē™¼č²”.

The New Year’s greeting in Cantonese is Kung Hey Fat Choy, which means Congratulations and Be Prosperous. When the New Year’s greeting is said, there is a specific hand gesture. Here’s a picture of the correct hand gesture made for the Chinese New Year.

Photo of Hand Gesture for the Chinese New Year

You shake your hands up and down slightly while making this gesture.

My cousin James, who lives in Shanghai, China, wrote me about what’s said in Mandarin for the Chinese New Year. He said…

Xin nian kuai le means Happy New Year in Mandarin, and is normally said to a young person.

Xin = New
Nian = Year
Kuai le = Happy

Xin nian jian kang is normally said to an elderly person.

Jian Kang = Good Health

Xin nian hao is normally said to someone you don’t know on the street.

Hao = Good

Gong xi fa cai can also be said for the New Year.

Gong xi = Congratulations
Fa cai = Prosperity

Xin nian kuai le!

In Vietnam, the New Year is called Tet Nguyen Dan. The Vietnamese New Year’s greeting is Chuc Mung Nam Moi meaning, Happy New Year. (Tet refers to the first morning of the first day of the New Year).

In Korea the New Year is called Sol or Seollal. In Korean they say, Say-hay boke mahn-he pah-du-say-oh, which literally means, Please Receive Many New Year’s Blessings.

Many thanks to Ray Lee for sending me the photo of the correct hand gesture to use for the Chinese New Year, and for help with the Cantonese, and to James Yannucci for help with the Mandarin.

Happy New Year!


Come Visit Mama Lisa’s Chinese New Year Page for more about the Chinese New Year.

Come visit the Mama Lisa’s World China Page for Kids Songs from China and

The Mama Lisa’s World Taiwan Page for more Chinese Children’s Songs

This article was posted on Sunday, January 22nd, 2006 at 7:09 pm and is filed under Cantonese, China, Chinese, Chinese New Year, Countries & Cultures, Holidays Around the World, Hong Kong, Korean, Languages, Mandarin, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Vietnamese. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

9 Responses to “Greetings and Hand Gestures for the Chinese New Year”

  1. Lee Wai Ching Says:

    The picture shown may not be the only correct way. In your picture, the guy has his right hand on the outside. Apparently some people do it the other way, i.e. left hand on the outside. I checked with a few co-workers of mine and they say that either way is fine.

    (Interlocking one’s fingers is definitely not the right way though)

  2. Lisa Says:

    Ray wrote…

    I just called my parents. They are in Hong Kong right now, visiting my uncle. Before I hung up, I asked my mom about the kung hey fat choy hand gesture, and she said, ” … it’s usually right hand on the outside … but it doesn’t matter …”

    Ha! They taught us to put the right hand outside and all my life I have believed that that was the only right way to do it! Now she finally fessed up!

  3. Lisa Says:

    I’ve noticed that many people are looking for an mp3 recording of how to say Happy New Year in Mandarin and Cantonese.

    If anyone out there speaks either language and would like to send me a recording, I’d be happy to post it.

  4. Julie Says:

    Looking for a way to say Happy New year? go to this link:

  5. Lance Says:

    My family always say: gung hey fat choi, ho sei gai.

    do you know what the ho sei gai means?

  6. Lisa Says:

    Ray Lee wrote me:

    “Ho” means good

    “sei gai” means world

    I guess it means things will be good around the world?

  7. Ray Says:
    audio of Chinese New Year Greetings.

    I am having coloring pictures done of Chinese New Year Greetings from Taiwan, HK, and China since they are different. I have one done already from Taiwan. One time somebody had printed out a lot to give out at a senior home, and found out it was not the right one and sent me an E-Mail telling me how I had the wrong character for Chinese New Year posted.
    – Free Chinese Coloring Pages for Kids

    Ray, Owner – Learning Chinese products for Kids

  8. Lord Gomisan Says:

    Ho SEI GAI !



  9. Chinese New Year Kids Yoga Class | elephant journal Says:

    […] Teach the children how to wish one another Happy New Year in Chinese – Gong Xi Fa CaiĀ (Mandarin) or Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese) with theĀ appropriate hand gesture. […]

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