Jan 30

About the Chinese Spring Festival

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.


Permanent link to this article: http://english-speak-english.com/spring-festival-in-china/


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    • Eva Shi on January 31, 2016 at 12:30 am
    • Reply

    Dear K, you know more than a real chinese people! Not only Westerners, but also chinese can well know the chinese culture! You are really a knowledgable man.
    Just noted you have been to China last Sep. I should contact me for next trip to SH , don’t forget me! 🙂
    Happy Chinese New Year in advance!

    1. Hi Eva, Nice to receive your comment!
      During my visit to China last September, I spent most of my time in Shandong Province, as I will in this upcoming visit for the Spring Festival. I may have an opportunity to go back to Shanghai in the future, but I am not sure when. I would like to get to Suzhou sometime and I know that’s not too far from SH.
      Happy New Year to you too!

    • YangYang on January 31, 2016 at 1:36 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Kevin!
    Hong Bao Na Lai!XD
    It is my first year that I am not at home to celebrate the Spring Festival. I am kind of homesick…
    But anyway, I can live with my dear family on the wechat !
    You’ve mentioned that the third trip to China! That’s great! Have fun!

    1. HI YangYang!
      Very nice to receive your comment. Thank you.
      I can imagine how homesick you must be, but this is all part of growing up. You can’t stay home forever.
      Reflecting on my trip to Shanghai, I have very fond memories of touring the museum with you and your sister and the delicious dumplings we shared for breakfast.
      I hope you are staying warm in Canada! hahaha.
      Will you try to learn how to ski in the big snow at Whistler Mountain?

        • YangYang on January 31, 2016 at 4:03 pm
        • Reply

        I am afraid of skiing in a real mountain…I think I need a personal coach to protect me!

        1. Ah Ha! More opportunities to become a big girl!
          A coach can train you in the basics and teach you how to be safe. The rest is up to you. To use your knowledge and common sense, but to push yourself to do things you may think you are incapable.
          If you think it would be fun and worthwhile I encourage you to try it. You don’t have to start on the most difficult course. You can take a few lessons and then try and see how well you do. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Life is an adventure unless you sit on the sofa forever.

    • May on February 1, 2016 at 8:17 pm
    • Reply

    This is the first CNY you will spend in China. Wish a wonderful and joyful new year time to you and your family.
    When I was a little girl, I was always looking forwards to new year’s coming. Since we could wear new clothes and eat delicious food. New year’s holiday was more about playing and fun.
    Now, my parents and I live in different cities. New year’s holiday is more about reunion. I also expect to see my little nephew who just learnt to say “aunt”. Lovely!

    1. Thanks May. Hope you have a nice time with your family.
      Maybe we will have time for a game of scrabble while I’m in Jinan.

    • rachel on February 2, 2016 at 12:38 am
    • Reply

    Hi kevin, thank you for sharing me the link again. It is quite pleasant to read a foreinger friend introducinng the Chinese traditional big festival!
    I wish you a healthy and happy 2016!
    BTW, please let’s keep in contact if you have the plan to visit shanghai 🙂

    1. Happy to hear from you, Rachel.
      Thanks for your kind wishes for the new year and wishing the best of health and happiness too!

    • Vivian Yao on February 10, 2016 at 11:39 pm
    • Reply

    Hahaha….you can speak so many Chinese greeting words!
    I would like to invite you and your family to visit my home on your 3rd time in Beijing, I will cook the delicious food for you.
    See you soon.

    1. Hi Viv,
      As I mentioned during our dinner on the 16th, I could not post this comment until returning home. For security reasons I have set up access to the administration pages of the blog from only one computer. This helps to keep spammers and hackers out.
      It was great to see you again and I was pleased that you could meet Echo. Keep watching for my next article about this most recent visit to China. I will include the picture I took outside the restaurant.
      Thanks for your gracious invite to enjoy some of your delicious cooking at home. We will be sure to spend some time next trip.
      See you next time!

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