The annual Spring Festival, is called the Chinese New Year by most Westerners, and is based upon the lunar calendar arriving usually in early February. 2016 will usher in the year of the Red Monkey.
Domestic travel is challenging during this holiday—- many Chinese will return to their home town for a visit with family. So, the cost of airplane and train tickets are higher than normal, their availability is scarce because they sell so quickly – far in advance of the holiday and the crowds are immense. On this, my third visit to China I have come to expect that there are always crowds wherever I go.
When I first learned to greet Chinese with good wishes for the new year, I was told by a Taiwanese friend to say, Gong Shi Fa Cai – but years later I learned that this more accurately translates as a wish for the recipient to become rich and children will respond by saying, Hong Bao Na Lai in the hope they will receive money in the red envelope.
Xin Nian Kuai Le – is actually translated to Happy New Year! Or, you could say – Xin Xiang Shi Cheng, which translates as a wish for your dreams to come true. Each of the previous three links will offer an audio pronunciation to help non-Chinese speakers. Here is another link with 10 popular greetings for the new year.
The 2016 celebration begins on February 8th, and ends on February 22nd, the 15th day of the Lantern Festival.
More about the Chinese Zodiac calendar
In my next article I will share some of the customs and traditions of the Spring Festival like, fireworks to scare away demons and burning incense to purify the doorway of one’s home.
And of course, some info about traditional foods for the holiday.