Celebrate With Wisdom: Chinese New Year Sayings to Learn

Chinese New Year is coming soon! It’s time to learn some Chinese New Year sayings (新年吉祥话, xīn nián jí xiáng huà) and visit your Chinese friends! Here we list several Chinese New Year expressions along with examples. Let’s find out!

Three sections has been written below:
十二生肖 (shí èr shēng xiāo, 12 Symbolic Animals)
– Chinese 牛年 (niú nián, the year of the Ox) Sayings
– Common Chinese New Year Sayings

2021 is 牛年 (niú nián), the year of the Ox. If you don’t know what is 牛年, here is where it comes from… (If you have already known 十二生肖, you may skip to the next section Chinese 牛年 sayings.)

十二生肖, shí èr shēng xiāo

12 Symbolic Animals

We have twelve animals to represent each different year and repeat after each twelve year. The twelve animals are 鼠牛虎兔龙蛇马羊猴鸡狗猪 (shǔ niú hǔ tù lóng shé mǎ yáng hóu jī gǒu zhū, which has been explained below). We call them 十二生肖. Most Chinese people know this particular order of 十二生肖. 2020 is 鼠年 (the year of the Rat), so the coming year 2021 is 牛年 (the year of the Ox). 

If you give birth to a baby in 2021, your baby is a 牛宝宝 (niú bǎo bao, Ox baby) and we say your baby 属牛 (shǔ niú, is a Ox). You can also count back to your birthday to see 你属什么 (nǐ shǔ shén me, what your animal sign is), which animal year you were born in. Below are the relevant translations and examples which helps you better understand.

鼠, shǔ: Rat

牛, niú: Ox

虎, hǔ: Tiger

兔, tù: Rabbit

龙, lóng: Dragon

蛇, shé: Snake

马, mǎ: Horse

羊, yáng: Goat

猴, hóu: Monkey

鸡, jī: Rooster

狗, gǒu: Dog

猪, zhū: Pig


属:belong to…




  • 你是属什么的?

nǐ shì shǔ shén me de ?

  • 我是83年的,属猪的。

wǒ shì bā sān nián de ,shǔ zhū de 。


  • What animal sign were you born under?
  • I was born in 1983, the year of the Pig.

Chinese 牛年 Sayings

The following three four-character phrases all contain the character 牛 (Ox) and have the same meaning, which says wish you all the best in 牛年 (the year of the Ox).

牛年大吉, niú nián dà jí



大:big, large amounts

吉:best wishes, all the best

牛运亨通, niú yùn hēng tōng


亨通:all the best

牛气冲天, niú qì chōng tiān

气:here means luck

冲天:reaching the sky. It means all the best.

Common Chinese New Year Sayings

Here we have listed 9 most common Chinese New Year sayings. Some of them are categorised into three groups – for kids, adults and elders.

These two expressions you can say to most Chinese people…

新年快乐, xīn nián kuài lè 

This is the most common saying, which means Happy new year. Alternatively, you can say 春节快乐 (chūn jiē kuài lè), Happy Spring Festival.

新: new

年: year

快乐: happy

春: spring 

节: festival

心想事成, xīn xiǎng shì chéng

This means wish you what you think will come true, everything goes well as you think. Another word can be 万事如意 (wàn shì rú yì).

心: mind, heart

想: think, wish, hope

事: things

成: come true, achieve

万: ten thousand, large amounts 

如: the same as…

意: mind, what you are thinking

For the kids, you can say…

学业进步, xué yè jìn bù 

Wish you all the best at school.

学业: study at school

进步: make progress, become better

前程似锦, qián chéng sì jǐn

Have a great future.

前程: future

似: like…

锦: brocade

更上一层楼, gèng shàng yì céng lóu 

I Hope you become better and better.

更: compared to the previous one…

上: up, up to..

一层楼: one floor

For the adults, you can say…

恭喜发财, gōng xǐ fā cái

Wish you make more money. Another word can be 财源广进 (cái yuán guǎng jìn).

恭喜: wish all the best

发财: get more money

财: money

源: resources 

广: lots of

进:access, come into (your pocket)

工作顺心, gōng zuò shùn xīn 

Wish you all the best during work.

工作: work

顺: all the best

心: as you think

For the elders, you can say…

身体健康, shēn tǐ jiàn kāng 

Wish you good health. Another fancy but common expression can be 福如东海,寿比南山 (fú rú dōng hǎi, shòu bǐ nán shān), which means wish you living a long and healthy life, big like the ocean, high like the mountain.

身体: body

健康: healthy 

福: good luck, bless you

寿:  wish you living a long and healthy life

如,比: the same as…, like…

东海: an ocean name

南山: a mountain name

Now you know the most common Chinese New Year sayings. To see whether your understanding of these expressions is good or not, let’s go out and talk to Chinese people about what you learned today! 

And remember to say 谢谢 (xiè xie, thank you) after they share the ideas about learning Chinese. Hope you enjoy today’s blog! Want to learn more? Click the links below:

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