Culture

Don’t know what to say during CNY? How about these greetings?

by Bridget Lee // February 9, 2021, 7:56 pm

what to say during CNY 2 - new

Imagine it’s Chinese New Year.

You’re going to visit your family, you want to wish them a happy new year, but when you meet them face-to-face, your mind goes blank. Try as you might, you can’t remember anything.

Maybe you’ve been in this situation before. Don’t worry, we’ll help you out by giving you seven phrases that are easy to remember. This way, you won’t find yourself stressing out over memorising new ones hours before the new year hits.

Oh and as a bonus: there are Bible verses that can add meaning to these phrases. Let’s start with the most common one!

1. 新年快乐 (Xīn Nián Kuài Lè) 

Most of us already know that this phrase means “happy new year”. It’s the first phrase that you’ll either hear or use when you meet someone.

There is a verse in the Bible that talks about the same thing. In Psalm 65:11 (NKJV), the psalmist praises the Lord for blessing the year with goodness: “You crown the year with Your goodness and Your paths drip with abundance.”

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Maybe we feel like we’ve been robbed of so many good things because of the pandemic that is still ongoing, goals that we couldn’t accomplish or things left undone.

This verse challenges us by asking whether we believe that despite all situations, God is still a good God who can still do a good work in our lives.

If we do believe it, we can indeed have a happy new year, knowing that God has never left us.

2. 万事如意 (Wàn Shì Rú Yì)

This one means “may everything go according to what you wish for”. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? All of us want whatever we do to go smoothly – to have as little bumps in the road as possible.

But even more assuring that, is the fact that we have a God who oversees every step of our lives.

God is always working with us, not against us, in everything we do, for our good.

“In all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” Romans 8:28 provides us with comfort in the knowledge that God is always working with us, not against us, in everything we do, for our good.

He guides our paths. So with this in mind, we have something better than luck.

We have God, the Maker of heaven and earth.

3. 年年有余 (Nián Nián Yǒu Yú)

This phrase is essentially a play on words. In Chinese, the word “余” (yú) sounds identical to “鱼” (yú).

The first “”余” (yú) is part of the phrase “剩余”, which means abundance. While the second “鱼” (yú) means “fish”.

So, what this phrase means is, “wishing you abundance year after year.” 

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Interestingly enough, this phrase makes me think of a Bible story in John 21.

“He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” (John 21:6)

This is from the story of how Jesus appeared for the second time to Simon Peter and the rest of His disciples after His resurrection.

On the night that they went out to fish, they caught nothing. In the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but they didn’t know it was Him. He told them to lower their net down on the right side, and they caught an abundance of fish.

Just like how Jesus filled the disciples’ net with fish till it overflowed, when we choose to obey God, He will bless us abundantly in the new year (but maybe not with fish!).

4. 步步高升 (Bù Bù Gāo Shēng)

This phrase means “to reach a higher level with each step”. It is a wish for you to progress in anything you do.

There’s a similar idea in 2 Corinthians 3:18 which reads, “But we all … are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.”

To go from glory to glory is to continually be changed or transformed into God’s likeness, to become more and more like Jesus each day. Jesus is fully man and fully God, but what makes Him different from man is that He didn’t sin.

As disciples of Christ, we are called to live a life that reflects the glory of God. One way we can commit ourselves to doing that is to make the daily decision to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow after Jesus.

Life isn’t so much about worldly success, like climbing the corporate or educational ladder for the sake of it, than it is the transformative work that takes place inside us, in our character.

5. 岁岁平安 (Suì Suì Píng Ān)

To wish someone this means to say “may you have peace year after year”. In our hectic lives, it’s hard to find a time to slow down, take a breath or even relax for a short while.

All of us need peace, now and in the years to come. And God, our Creator, knows this very well.

“Keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years, and bring you peace and prosperity.” This is His promise to us in Proverbs 3:1-2.

God’s peace is not the same peace as the world gives.

To obey God is to obey the commands He has given to us. Not only the Ten Commandments (which can be found in Deuteronomy 5:6-21), but every other rule that has been written throughout the Bible.

Not only will we live long, but God’s peace will be with us. God’s peace is not the same peace as the world gives – it transcends all understanding, and will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

6. 心想事成 (Xīn Xiǎng Shì Chéng)

This one means “may you achieve the desires of your heart”.

It’s something we all want, to have our dreams or desires become realities. Because God is all-knowing, He is aware of what we hope to achieve, according to this promise in the Bible.

“Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

This doesn’t mean that God is a genie in a bottle. It doesn’t mean we can ask for whatever we want and He will give it to us. The verse says to delight in God, but what does that mean?

To me, it means having a heart that desires what God wants for my life, by taking my gaze off what I want.

But that doesn’t mean God is blind to our desires. When we place God’s will for us above our own, He will reward us by giving us what is truly best for us.

7. 金玉满堂 (Jīn Yù Mǎn Táng)

In a literal sense, this phrase means “may gold and jade fill your house”. It means to wish someone an abundance of wealth and knowledge.

Who doesn’t want to be blessed with fortune or intelligence? Just think of what you can buy with all that money, or how well you can do on any exam.

Read Proverbs 15:6: “The house of the righteous contains great treasure.”

Great treasure. Better than gold, silver or any sort of worldly riches is spiritual treasure – that we would have an abundance of it!

To have God as your portion, to be rich in His everlasting love and grace. That is the kind of eternal treasure that the verse is talking about.

Gold, money and earthly things will fade away eventually because nothing lasts forever. But there is no end to God, His word and His love for us.

And there you have it! Even as we use these traditional phrases, let’s take it a step further and bless our family and friends with real love and light this Chinese New Year.

THINK + TALK

  1. Which one was your favourite greeting? 
  2. Can you think of your own greetings? Come up with one based on a promise or truth of God.
  3. Wish your relatives well this new year!
About the author

Bridget Lee

How Bridget would describe a perfect day is listening to music and writing stories, all while having a cup of tea.