Cantonese: How Do You Say “Happy New Year”

by | Jan 30, 2019 | Cantonese, Cantonese - How Do You Say

Listen to Podcast | Cantonese: How Do You Say “Happy New Year”

Psst… You can find our How Do You Say Podcasts on Spotify too! Head to Spotify – or search for on Spotify.

New Words

EnglishCantoneseJyutpingOur Romanization
Chinese New Year eve年卅晚
Nin4 saa1 maan5Nin sa-ah maan
New Year eve除夕Ceoi4 zik6Ceoi zek
Red packets利是Lei6 si6Lei si
Happy New Year新年快樂
San1 nin4 faai3 lok6San nin faai lok
May all things go smoothly萬事如意
Maan6 si6 jyu4 ji3Maan si yu yi

Podcast Transcript | Cantonese: How Do You Say “Happy New Year”

Hey there, this is Eugene from Wow, Chinese New Year is just round the corner! This is the single most important festival for Chinese all around the world and it signifies a time for family members to gather as well as a new beginning. From having reunion dinners to giving red packets, Chinese people practice multiple cultural traditions which we will explore some on today’s Cantonese – How Do You Say Podcast. Are you excited to find out? Let’s go!

In the few weeks leading up to Chinese New Year, prices of food will start to increase. This is especially so for food items that symbolize prosperity and wealth, for example, abalone. Chinese families typically stock up food items for reunion dinner on Chinese New Year eve. This day is known as 年卅晚 if the last lunar month prior to Chinese New Year has 30 days. Alternatively, Cantonese speakers also refer to this day as 除夕 but it may cause confusion as the same term is used for New Year’s Eve which is on 31st December.

On the first day of Chinese New Year, you will see Chinese families, dressed typically in red, visiting extended family members. Now, what are some festive greetings that we can use?

Well, you cannot miss this one as it is more commonly heard in Singapore – 新年快樂. 新年快樂 means “Happy New Year”. 新年 refers to “new year” while 快樂 refers to “happy”.

Another popular greeting is 萬事如意. 萬 means “10 thousand”, 事 means “matters” and 如意 means “as you wish”. As such, putting them together, if you greet people with 萬事如意, it means that you hope all things will go smoothly for them!

In fact, you can put these 2 greetings together -新年快樂, 萬事如意. Happy New Year and I hope everything goes on well for you!

Now, to celebrate the festive spirit of giving as well as to start the new year with tons of wealth, elders will then give lucky money – in the form of red packets – to the younger generation. Cantonese people call these red packets – 利是 – which is a different from Hokkiens or Teochew. However, red or 红 in Cantonese, is believed by the Chinese to bring about good luck and ward off evil spirits. Have you received any 利是 so far?

To our Chinese listeners, what other traditions do your family practice during Chinese New Year? To our non-Chinese listeners, what do you think of the Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore?

Thank you for listening in to Cantonese – How Do You Say Podcast on I would also like to wish all our listeners 新年快樂, 萬事如意. Cheers to a prosperous year ahead!

P.S. Here’s another link to more Chinese New Year Greetings and Wishes in Cantonese.

Love what you are reading? We’ve got lots more to share during our Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese express workshops. Join us to pick up words and phrases for everyday use in Singapore. More importantly, you can help to keep these languages alive!

Our Philosophy for Learning Cantonese in Singapore

At, we want to make learning Cantonese fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, rather than figuring out which of the 10 or more Cantonese romanization system to use (e.g. Jyutping, Yale or Cantonese Pinyin etc.), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Cantonese words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “Sik” using Jyutping and “Sihk” using Yale. However, in our “Have You Eaten?” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “sek”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “sake”, “xig”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





Chinese dialects are dying too. What would you do to preserve them?


Mai tu liao. Subscribe to our newsletter for dialect-related articles, classes and events.

Ho seh liao! Look out for the goodies in your inbox soon!

Share This