Chinese New Year Greetings | Say What?

We’re celebrating the Chinese New Year in a few days. In the Philippines, this Chinese holiday has become something like a national event. In fact, a few years back, the Philippine government began declaring the Chinese New Year as a special non-working holiday. One question that I get a lot: how to say proper Chinese New Year greetings?

We see and hear a lot of different variations, which has only added to the bit of confusion.

Chinese New Year Greetings kiong hee huat tsai Binondo arch
The Binondo Chinatown Arch, Manila

So is it –

“Kung Hei Fat Choi”? (What we read and hear most commonly)

Or “Gong Xi Fa Cai”?

Or “Kiong Hee Huat Tsai”?

All of them Chinese New Year greetings are correct, only said in different Chinese languages.

So it’s just a matter of what’s appropriate to use. In the Philippines, because most Filipino-Chinese (Tsinoys) have their origin from the southern part of Fujian Province in China, the native Chinese dialect is Hokkien or Fookienese.

The third phrase above –“Kiong Hee Huat Tsai” –  is Hokkien, and, thus, appropriate to use in the Philippines.

Kung Hei Fat Choi is Cantonese, the dialect used in Hong Kong and the Guangdong (a.k.a. Canton) Province. It is not very appropriate to greet Tsinoys with Kung Hei Fat Choi.

Gong Xi Fa Cai is Mandarin, the global Chinese language. Yes, this is okay to use for all your Chinese friends.

What do those phrases mean? The literal translation is “Congratulations and may you prosper”, and is equivalent to wishing the person a happy and prosperous New Year.

Eh ano ang literal “Happy New Year” in Chinese?

In Mandarin: Xin Nian Kuai Le! (Read: “Sin nien kwai luh”)

In Fookien: Sin ni kwai lok! (But I don’t really hear this very often.)

What we commonly use in greeting family and friends  is “Kiong hee sin ni!”, which also means happy New Year, or just “kiong hee!”

So there, the lowdown on Chinese New Year greetings.

From my family to yours –

Kiong Hee, Kiong Hee! 🙂

And here’s a lucky lion dance to welcome the New Year of the Monkey with prosperity and positivity!


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