Seasonal Greetings in Chinese

I’m practicing my Chinese greetings and salutations. Common for all the forms presented here is the ending 快樂 – kuàilè – literarily “quick music”, the word being “happy” or “merry”.

My friend just had a birthday; the proper form is 生日快樂 – Shēngrìkuàilè. Broken down it litteraly means: 生 Shēng – to be born, 日 rì – day. So 生日 is birthday, and the whole phrase is “Happy Birthday!”

Soon, Christmas is coming. The proper greeting is 聖誕快樂 – Shèngdànkuàilè. The first syllable is almost the same as the previous example, just a tonal difference. But in this case 聖 Shèng means “holy”, and 誕 dàn is “birth/birthday”. So, “holy birth” = “Christmas”. The whole form then becomes “Merry Christmas!”

In the western world, New Year is fast approaching after xmas. In China, the Chinese New Year is still one month away, but… The proper seasonal greeting is 新年快樂 – Xīnniánkuàilè. This one is easy; 新 Xīn is “new”, and 年 nián is “year”. So it is not difficult to arrive at “Happy New Year!”

So, whatever your occasion; have a happy one!

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