50 Useful Chinese New Year Vocabulary That You Should Know 

The lunar new year is around the corner! 2022 will be the year of the Tiger, which symbolizes vigor and success. When the new year comes, Chinese people love decorating their houses in red, wearing red clothes, and giving and receiving lucky money. The color red brings good fortune and keeps evil away. That’s why red is a prominent color in most important events in Chinese life. From New Year’s lucky money envelopes and decorations to weddings, you’ll see red on display.

Chinese New Year’s customs are always fascinating because of the deep meaning and great history behind them. A cool way to learn more about Chinese New Year’s traditions and cultures is to learn the vocabulary! So, let’s take a look!

Chinese New Year 2022: An overview 

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is China’s biggest and most important festival. In the minds of most Chinese people, Chinese New Year’s Day signifies the beginning of a wonderful new year and is the most auspicious time of the year. 

There are also many beliefs and superstitions connected with the holiday, such as not taking out the garbage, or avoiding lending or borrowing money. Generally, people will get 7-15 days off work to spend time with their families and loved ones. 

Chinese New Year 2022 will fall on Tuesday, February 1st, 2022, beginning The Year of the Tiger. China’s public holiday will be from January 31st to February 6th, 2022, where workers and schools have time off to celebrate.

Chinese New Year full vocabulary list 

For this list we’ve grouped all the vocabulary associated with Chinese New Year into the following four categories:

1. Special events and dates 

Here you’ll see the important events and dates during the Chinese New Year. As mentioned above, these new words will give you a good insight into Chinese traditions and how Chinese people celebrate the new year!  

No. ChinesePinyinEnglish meaning
1春节chūnjiéChinese New Year/Spring Festival
2农历新年nóng lì xīn niánLunar New Year
3除夕chúxīChinese New Year’s Eve
4大年初一dànián chūyīNew Year’s Day
5初二chūèrDay After New Year’s
6元宵节/正月十五yuán xiāo jié/zhēngyuèshíwǔLantern Festival
7正月zhēng yuèThe first month of the lunar year
8腊月làyuèTwelfth month of the lunar year
9春运chūnyùnSpring Festival Migration (hundreds of million people travel to their hometown for New Year)
10团圆饭tuányuán fànFamily reunion dinner
11春节晚会chūnjié wǎnhuìChinese New Year Gala
12庙会miàohuìTemple fairs
13年夜饭nián yè fànNew Years dinner
14过年guòniánCelebrate the New Year
15拜年bàiniánNew Year’s visit

Just a side note, you will see other expressions and phrases meaning “Chinese New Year’ as well, but 春节 (chūnjié) is still the most common one. 

2. Chinese New Year greetings 

This category will look at how Chinese people wish each other a Happy New Year and send blessings to one another. We’ve also included business greeting phrases that you can use with your boss or colleagues. 

No. ChinesePinyinEnglish meaning
1新年好 Xīnnián hǎoHappy Chinese New Year(informal)
2新年快乐 xīn nián kuài lèHappy Chinese New Year(formal)
3恭喜发财 gōngxǐfācáiHappiness and prosperity
4万事如意 wàn shì rú yìMay all go well with you!
5祝你心想事成 zhù nǐ xīnxiǎng-shì chéngMay all your wishes come true
6年年有余 niánniányǒuyúMay you have abundance year after year
7身体健康 shēn tǐ jiàn kāngWishing you good health!
8虎年大吉 hǔ nián dà jíWishing you luck in the year of the Tiger!
9阖家欢乐hé jiā huān lèHappiness for the whole family!
10岁岁平安 suìsuì-píng’ānEverlasting peace year after year
11工作顺利 gōng zuò shùn lìMay your work go smoothly!
12事业有成 shì yè yǒu chéng Success in your career!
13步步高升 bù bù gāo shēngPromotions at every step!

3. Chinese New Year objects and activities 

In Chinese culture, people exchange gifts and lucky money to wish others fortune and health for the coming year. They also visit relatives, watch lion dances or comedic skits on national television. Another must-do festive activity is setting off firecrackers and fireworks. It is a way to scare away evil spirits and welcome in the new year. At exactly 12 midnight and in the following few minutes of The New Chinese Year, the sky all over the country explodes with billions of fireworks. 

NoChinesePinyinEnglish meaning 
1红包hóngbāoRed envelope
2压岁钱yāsuìqiánMoney given to childrenas a Lunar New Year gift
3拜年bàiniánpay someone a visit during the Chinese New Year
7放鞭炮fàng biānpàoSet off firecrackers
9小品xiǎopǐnComedic skits
12舞狮wǔshīLion dance
13舞龙wǔ lóngDragon dance
15守夜 shǒuyèStaying up until midnight/through the night

4. Chinese New Year food 

Chinese people have special ‘lucky food’ served during the New Year’s Eve family reunion dinner. For example, fish is a must, as the word sounds like ‘surplus’ in Chinese and represents abundance. Dumplings shaped like gold and silver ingots which were common in ancient China symbolize wealth and prosperity. Niángo (glutinous rice cake) is also a lucky food representing a greater wealth or position because the word sounds like ‘year high.’

Below is the full list of Chinese New Year’ lucky food’:

NoChinesePinyinEnglish meaning 
2汤圆tāngyuánGlutinous rice dumplings
3鱼 Fish
4年糕niángāoNew Year cake 
5长寿面 chángshòu miànLongevity noodles 
6春卷 chūnjuǎnSpring rolls 
7水果 shuǐguǒFruits

There you have it. Our list of useful Chinese New Year vocabulary. For Chinese people, the Lunar New Year is an enormously important holiday.

Now you can use these Chinese New Year greetings and sayings and join in the fun and celebrate.

Happy Chinese New Year!

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