Chinese New Year Vocab || 63 Must Know Words and Phrases

Your Guide to All the Essential Chinese New Year Vocab for 2024

2024 is set to be a big year… it’s the year of the dragon! 🐉

Learning Chinese New Year vocab is a great way to find out more about Chinese New Year traditions and practices.

It is also the perfect opportunity to take the vocab you’ve learned and test it out with Chinese friends, a language partner or in Chinese classes.

Not to mention, Chinese New Year is also the most important and widely celebrated holiday in China!

If you want to find out more about Chinese New Year apart from just the vocab make sure to have a look at our Complete Guide to Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year Vocab || Events and Dates

Chinese New Year Vocab || Greetings and Blessings

Chinese New Year Vocab || Activities, Objects and Decorations

Chinese New Year Vocab || New Year Food

Chinese New Year Vocab || Chinese Zodiac Animals

Chinese Zodiac || Posters

Chinese New Year Vocab || Quiz

Chinese New Year 2024 (AKA The Year of the Dragon!) preparations are in full swing!

Chinese New Year Vocab || Events and Dates

To start off let’s have a look at some of the main events and dates that you should be aware of for Chinese New Year.

You’ll notice that there are actually quite a few ways to say New Year, however the main one is 春节 chūnjié which literally translates to Spring Festival.

Spring Festival (Chinese New Year)春节chūnjié
Lunar New Year农历新年nóng lì xīn nián
Chinese New Year’s Eve除夕chúxī
New Year’s Day大年初一dànián chūyī
Day After New Year’s初二chūèr
Lantern Festival元宵节/正月十五yuán xiāo jié/zhēngyuèshíwǔ
First month of the lunar year 正月zhēng yuè
Twelfth month of the lunar year腊月làyuè
Spring Festival Migration春运chūnyùn
Reunion dinner团圆饭tuányuán fàn
Chinese New Year Gala春节晚会chūnjié wǎnhuì
Temple fairs庙会miàohuì
New Years dinner年夜饭nián yè fàn
Celebrate the New Year过年guònián
New Year’s visit拜年bàinián

If you’re in Beijing for Chinese New Year, have a look at our list of top things to do below.

Chinese New Year Beijing ⭐️ Top Things to Do During the Festival 2024 Thumbnail

Chinese New Year Beijing ⭐️ Top Things to Do During the Festival 2024

Experience the Magic of Chinese New Year in Beijing: A Guide to Celebrating the 2024 Year of the Dragon Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is the most important holiday in China, marked by festive celebrations, family reunions,…

Chinese New Year Vocab || Greetings and Blessings

There are many ways to wish someone a Happy New Year in Chinese, along with many greetings and blessings.

Let’s have a look at some of the most common ways.

Happy Holidays – 过年好 guònián hǎo!

As we saw in the last section of Chinese New Year vocab, 过年 guònián means to celebrate the New Year so you simply add 好 hǎo afterwards to wish someone happy holidays.

Happy Spring Festival – 春节快乐 chūnjié kuàilè

If you’ve already learnt how to say Happy Birthday in Chinese, then you’ll know that the word happy 快乐 kuàilè always comes second, opposite to the way it is written in English.


Happy New Year – 新年快乐 xīn nián kuài lè

Another standard New Year greeting, however this one can also be used to wish someone a Happy New Year for the Gregorian calendar on 1st January.

Wishing (You) Good Fortune – 恭喜发财 gōngxǐfācái

This is one of the most popular New Year greetings you’ll hear in China, 恭喜 gōngxǐ are good wishes, or congratulations and 发财 fācái means to become rich of gather wealth.

Children will often follow up 恭喜发财 gōngxǐfācái with the phrase 红包拿来 hóngbāo ná lái which means “may I have my red envelope please?”. This is normally how children will greet their aunties and uncles during New Year visits.


May all your wishes come true – 祝你心想事成 zhù nǐ xīnxiǎng-shìchéng

Now 心想事成 xīnxiǎng-shìchéng is actually a Chinese proverb, so it doesn’t have to strictly be kept for Chinese New Year.

Another appropriate time to wish someone this could also be on their birthday for example.

May you have abundance year after year – 年年有余 niánniányǒuyú

This is another very popular greeting/toast that you’ll hear around Chinese New Year. 余 yú means surplus or abundance it also has the same sound as 鱼 yú (fish), which makes fish a very lucky food in Chinese culture.


Wishing (You) Good Health – 敬祝身体健康 jìng zhù shēntǐ jiànkāng

Perhaps an especially important phrase to be wishing someone given the situation with the virus over the course of 2020.

敬祝 jìng zhù means to wish, 身体 shēntǐ means health or body and 健康 jiànkāng means health.

Good Luck in the Year of the Tiger – 虎年大吉 hǔ nián dàjí

For 2022 the Chinese zodiac will be the year of the Tiger, so you can specifically wish someone good luck for the coming year.

For other years, you can simply replace 虎 hǔ with the Chinese zodiac animal for that year.

Chinese New Year Greetings

Everlasting peace year after year – 岁岁平安 suìsuì-píng’ān

Lastly we have the simple blessing to wish someone peace 平安 píng’ān year after year.

It’s important to remember that 岁岁 suìsuì only refers to year after year in this idiom and can’t be used on it’s own to mean yearly.

Chinese New Year Vocab || Activities, Objects and Decorations

Along with important dates and New Year greetings there are of course lots of other activities and objects that are a vital part of Chinese New Year.

You might already have heard of some of these Chinese traditions such as red envelopes (红包 hóngbāo) which have become such a part of everyday life you can send them on WeChat Pay and Alipay.

But are you as familiar with some of the other Chinese New Year activities and objects?

Red envelope红包hóngbāo
Money given to children
as a Lunar New Year gift
Set off firecrackers放鞭炮fàng biānpào
Comedic skits小品xiǎopǐn
Lion dance舞狮wǔshī
Dragon dance舞龙wǔ lóng
Staying up until midnight/through the night守夜 shǒuyè

Anyone who has been in China or to a Chinese restaurant during the Spring Festival period will have seen some New Year decorations.

They traditionally decorate doorways to bring luck and festivity during the Lunar New Year.

Here are some of the most common decorations you’ll see:

  • 春联 chūnlián – Spring Festival couplets, these are two lines of poetry written in gold or black characters on red paper. They are displayed vertically normally on a doorframe, sometimes there is also a horizontal top scroll.
  • fú – The character (good fortune) will be seen everywhere during Chinese New Year. The most common decoration you’ll see is in a red square diamond. Often this will be displayed upside down which symbolises that good fortune is coming.
  • 窗花 chuānghuā – Paper cuttings, a traditional Chinese handicraft where red paper designs are cut out to stick on windows, doors etc. For Chinese New Year these will often display the Zodiac animal for that year along with an auspicious character such as , 禄 lù, 寿 shòu.
Wedding Customs in China 👰- Exploring Beautiful Traditions Thumbnail

Wedding Customs in China 👰- Exploring Beautiful Traditions

Wedding Customs in China – Your Complete Guide If you’ve been invited to a Chinese wedding or are perhaps just curious about wedding customs in China then we have the guide for you. Find out about Chinese wedding traditions along…

Chinese New Year Vocab || New Year Food

Anyone who is familiar with Chinese culture will know how important food is, with particular dishes being eaten for their symbolic meaning.

During important events like Chinese New Year or Chinese weddings there are some dishes which are a must.

Let’s have a look at some of the vocab for some of the most essential food eaten during Chinese New Year.


Dumplings | 饺子 jiǎozi

Dumplings or more specifically 饺子 jiǎozi are a classic lucky New Year food that are traditionally eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve (除夕 chúxī).

Jiaozi can be made to look like Chinese gold and silver ingots that were used as money in ancient times.

According to legend the more dumplings you eat the richer you will become in the New Year.

Glutinous rice dumplings | 汤圆 tāngyuán


Next up we have another kind of dumpling that is popular to eat during Chinese New Year. Unlike jiaozi, it is the name of these dumplings that make them lucky, rather than their shape.

The yuán in their name is associated with reunion (团圆 tuányuán) and family togethreness.

These are most commonly eaten on the last day of Chinese New Year celebrations which is the Lantern Festival 元宵节 yuán xiāo jié.

Fish | 鱼 yú

We already mentioned earlier that fish in Chinese is seen as an auspicious food because it is a homonym for 余 yú meaning surplus.

This makes a fish dish an essential part of any Chinese New Year meal. Having fish every year symbolises the New Year blessing 年年有余 niánniányǒuyú.

鱼总是晚餐必不可少的,因为鱼象征着年年有余。Yú zǒng shì wǎncān bì bùkě shǎo de, yīnwèi yú xiàngzhēngzhe nián nián yǒuyú. 

Fish is always part of the dinner because it represents abundance.

How the fish is served varies depending on where in China you are, some areas traditionally serve a whole fish where as in some cities such as Shanghai, it is traditional to have Shanghai smoked fish 上海熏鱼 shànghǎi xūn yú.

Spring rolls | 春卷 chūnjuǎn


Although now eaten and enjoyed all year round, spring rolls were actually originally eaten during Spring Festival, which is actually where they got their name from.

These are a lucky food to eat during the Lunar New Year because they symbolise wealth as their appearance look similar to gold bars.

The lucky saying 黄金万两 is associated with eating them which means “a ton of gold”.

New Year cake | 年糕 niángāo

New Year cake is a glutinous rice cake that is normally eaten as part of the Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner.

This dish is considered auspicious because the name is a homonym for 年高 “higher year”.

Thus it is eaten to signify higher success in the coming year.

Longevity noodles | 长寿面 chángshòu miàn

Longevity noodles are commonly eaten either during Chinese New Year or on a person’s birthday. Originally they are made from one long, unbroken noodle strand and the longer the noodle the bigger the wish for long life. Nowadays they are normally a mixture of very long noodles, rather than just being one single strand.

Fruit | 水果 shuǐguǒ

Along with various dishes that are seen as lucky to eat at New Year, there are also certain fruits that are also considered to bring good luck.

The main ones are tangerines 桔子 júzi, oranges 橙子 chéngzi and pomelo 柚子 yòuzi.

This is again because of the sound or the look of the characters, contains the Chinese character for luck (吉 jí) and chéng sounds the same as meaning success.

The 柚 yòu in pomelo sounds both like 有 yǒu (to have), and 又 yòu (again) so the more you eat the more wealth you will have.

Types of Chinese Noodles 🍜 A Guide to 11 Varieties Thumbnail

Types of Chinese Noodles 🍜 A Guide to 11 Varieties

There are many types of Chinese Noodle. Probably more than you think. So here’s our guide to the very best and the ones you have to try when in China.

Chinese New Year Vocab | Chinese Zodiac Animals

Lastly on our list of Chinese New Year vocab we have the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. The year 2024 is going to be the Year of the Dragon 龙 lóng.


The Chinese Zodiac begins with the Year of the Rat and then you can follow the order clockwise from the graphic below.


If you don’t know your Chinese Zodiac, then be sure to check out our Chinese Zodiac calculator!

Chinese Zodiac Posters

Chinese New Year Vocab // Quiz

Put your Chinese New Year vocab to the test with our quick quiz!

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Chinese New Year Vocab | FAQs

How do you say Chinese New Year in Chinese?

Chinese New Year in Chinese is 春节 chūnjié which literally means Spring Festival.

How do you say Happy New Year in Chinese?

Happy New Year in Chinese is 春节快乐 chūnjié kuàilè which literally means Happy Spring Festival.

What is the Chinese zodiac animal in 2024?

The Chinese zodiac animal for 2024 is the Dragon.

What is the Chinese zodiac animal in 2025?

The Chinese zodiac animal for 2025 is the Snake.

What day is Chinese New Year 2024?

Chinese New Year in 2024 falls on Saturday, February 10th.

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