Chinese New Year


中国新年快乐 (Zhōng guó xīn nián kuài lè)
星期一二月八号 (Xīng qí yī èr yuè bā hào)


恭禧发财. Robert-C7

This is a generic greeting that Chinese say to each other, especially adults. The first word is respectfully, the second happiness but together means congratulations 恭禧. But all 4 together is like wishing you prosperity. All adults need that. Heehee

Say your friend just told you he is getting married and you will say 恭禧, 恭禧 for emphasis. Chinese do that a lot when it is important such as this imaginary friend getting married. 

发财 together is prosperity, singly the first word is to expand or spread, I think; the 2nd is wealth or fortune. Sometimes, at least for me anyway when there is only one character I can't explain it but with other words then I can get the gist of the meaning, context!!! because depending on how you pair the characters they could mean something different. 

Since there are 15 days of the New Year celebration you say that for about a month and would not be wrong especially someone at work who just got back from a trip or vacation and you saw him/her for the 1st time at the office. No different from Happy New Year that you don't limit it to the first day or even 1st week. 

Married adults hand out red envelopes 紅包 with "lucky" money inside instead of presents. Children saved them until the 15th when they had visited all their relatives and their parents' best friends and ran into all neighbors/acquaintances. But once in a while they might still receive some 紅包 late but won't be too many. The whole holiday is a big 1-2 weeks of visiting people.

If the children had big ticket item=toy in mind then they tallied all the  紅包  to see if they have enough. Some children saved them for later or spread the "wealth" over a period of time instead one big purchase.  

再见 (again, see =  see (you) again literally 



I just received this from a friend. The CNY song was written by a singer from Hong Kong but sang by 4 Americans with subtiles for the President and the First Lady and some or most of the White House staffer. I saw the Vice President too. See you recognize any of the word or keep listening to get to to the sound. 

I know singing is harder than listening to someone talk but just another source.


Thank you for your interesting comments.  I have heard 恭禧 numerous times.  Now how do you say "bottoms up" (like finish your drink)?  I remember people saying this at my wedding many years ago.


I'm away, activities from dawn to bedtime, Haha!  
I don't know how to do Chinese character using my tablet but to say bottoms up, it should be empty (the or your) cup.
empty is gān which could also mean dry 
bēi is cup and glass (a vessel for drinking fluid, not a jug made with glass or window pane, etc) To get a cup for hot liquid you have to ask for tea cup; for cold liquid like for juice, glass cup to differentiate the difference.
bottoms up is gān bēi
cup usually goes with bēizi
I hope this helped.


干杯 (gān bēi) does indeed mean "dry glass", the closest thing to bottoms up.  However, that's not what I remember us saying (me, wife and my Chinese best man) going from table to table.  I kind-of remember it sounding something like "dim fui".  He spoke Mandarin though my wife only speaks Cantonese (and English of course).  At the time I did not speak any Chinese except for a few Cantonese words (sec fan a, deu je).


I remembered from the deep recess of my brain which I did think I have Cantonese is different because it's not a language but a dialect. Bottoms up is yum shèng.
yum is to drink
shèng is victory; in other word don't stop until you have achieved victory which means until the bottom of your glass is completely empty or dry. 
"Dim Fui", I have absolutely no idea. Canton where Cantonese was spoken is now Guanzhou, the biggest city in the southern most province of Guandong. There can be slight differences within Guanzhou Cantonese vs Cantonese spoken in Hong Kong, a former British colony. 
I'm sorry I have no idea what dim fui  is and can't help you. If you have the characters I might be able to figure it out. 


I was too busy to read thoroughly; gān bēi is indeed the proper Mandarin to say bottoms up, not the closest thing to bottoms up but indeed the proper way to say it, ditto for Cantonese version. Each character has 4 tones and each can mean something entirely different, hence empty and dry, don't seem to be related, just like French for me as a beginner. 

Sec fan a is Cantonese; it could mean "(let's) eat rice (now) "a" is a filler word/sound at the end of a phrase or sentence. Some people would use "la" if you are gathered around the table, dishes all set and the host would say that so everyone would start or else it's very rude. Eat rice doesn't mean literally you will be just eating rice but a meal from a simple one to an elaborate meal. If it is a little formal, meaning there are people other than immediate family then they will say "up chopstick" qi (the "i" should have a "v" instead of a dot (iPad doesn't have that), kuài is chopsticks. Just like cup/glass it used with zi as kuàizi to ask someone to get the chopsticks to set the table. It's all about context. One never says qi kuàizi. 

I attended a Chinese-Burmese wedding 2 years ago. The banquet was host by the groom's parents, a cultural tradition even though the groom and bride were born in US, first generation Americans. The groom's parents, bride and groom walked to each table to thank guests for coming; they spoke to us in English but further away I heard them say deu je (for coming). All guests return in kind "congratulations" regardless of languages. 


When I got married, I spoke no Chinese so they were probably saying "gān bēi" but I just mis-remembered it.  Now I would say I am at an intermediate level in Mandarin but I still cannot speak Cantonese.  As someone who hears Cantonese a lot, I can assure you that it is completely different language from Mandarin.  They share the same characters and follow the same grammar rules, but the pronunciations are completely different.  Cantonese also has six tones - low, middle, high and transitions between those levels.  Anyway, one day I will learn Cantonese but not until I master Mandarin.


Mandarin is the language; only educated people would learn how to read and write at school. I learned the traditional characters (more strokes) when I was learning whereas my daughter learned the simplified version at the university. I believe all universities in the US teach the simplified version or the communist version using pinyin method. I don't have access to the lessons so I don't know what you are learning but I would understand some of them.  

Writing is in the proper language; identical characters regardless where in China you were educated. The Mandarin speaking people speak exactly as they write (formal) but when they converse with friends and family then they skip a lot just like Cantonese and French. For example: Person A said, "How are you?" Person B replied, "I am fine, and you or even just you?" but you would never write it like that unless you were doing a dialogue for a movie or a book. 

Cantonese, at school they learned to write exactly like the Mandarin language; there is only one language but if they answered questions at school it would be exactly like they wrote but spoken in Cantonese, sounded very differently. But when they converse in Cantonese (1) they don't speak like they write and (2) even the same character sound entirely different. As I said Cantonese is a dialect so it is more like a regional slang. Sometimes the next village within the Provence would not be able to understand each other. 

I did not know that Cantonese has 6 tones; I learned something new. 

I remembered you said your wife is Cantonese while your best man speaks Mandarin; related to her family?  My guess is that since your wife is Cantonese there would be more Cantonese relatives and guests attending the banquet/reception; in that case yum shèng would be the back and forth between you and your bride, both sets of parents and grandparents if they are still healthy enough to walk to every table to thank the guests for coming. The guests, besides saying 恭禧, 恭禧 to the wedding party they followed by yum shèng or bottoms up. Many male guests tried to get the bride and groom drunk; many brides and grooms if they were not drinkers they substituted with tea with just the right color. Some male guests might even taste-test your drink to be sure that it was the real thing, part of the wildly boisterous atmosphere of all weddings and part of the "game".

Just "bottoms up" is so different; you need to get your Cantonese wife to learn it with you or as the saying goes,  "chicken talking to the ducks". 

My dawn to bedtime gathering will be over tomorrow. I really need to catch up my beginner French. 


My best man at my wedding was my former roommate in college.  He is from Taiwan and speaks Mandarin.  My wife and all of her relatives are Cantonese and originally from Kaiping, Jiangmen, Guangdong, China.  They speak a dialect of Cantonese, a rural one at that.  They all understand other Cantonese speakers including those from Hong Kong.  My mother-in-law also speaks fluent Mandarin and I sometimes communicate with her in Mandarin.  I do not understand anything she says to my wife (in Cantonese).


Your wife's family or ancestors came from a very famous village in Guangdong Province, which was named by UNESCO World Heritage in 2001 for preservation, Kaiping Diaolou 开平碉楼. Kaiping was/is a small town or a big village; diao means stone to my understanding and they were indeed built with stones; lou means building. 

What a coincident! We were invited to give a presentation in Hong Kong and a few colleagues wanted to see. We hired a driver with a van and it was day trip. I remembered there was a huge entrance to that village about the UNESCO World Heritage citation. It was quiet; we were the only people, probably not the proper tourist season and the driver was busy catching up on his smoking (it was agreed that he couldn't smoke while we were in the van) and probably smoked enough for the round trip back. Only some diaolou  were open to the public for a fee. There were thousands more scattered in the town or village. Some diaolou were falling apart from lack of maintenance or there was no family left to maintain. The colleague who initiated the trip picked a 3-story diaolou and the owner sat by the door to collect fees but she didn't live there. She explained that her ancestor left some time during the Qing Dynasty to find work and became very successful. He sent money to the family to build the house. There were competition among the successful villagers. If the neighbor built a 2-story house then the next door would keep sending money to build a 3-story and so on. There were indeed 4-story buildings.  The style was a mix of western and Chinese based on the description sent by the men who left for different countries where they worked. The builders based on the descriptions and their own imagination to come up with the end "product". The building we went in the ancestor happened to have come to US and the lady of the house was very kind to us.

I remembered there were few furniture but what was left was very well made and intricate including a rocking horse for a child or children. On the 3rd floor there was a room dedicated to honor the ancestors with a large altar with red candles and joss sticks and many black and white family group framed pictures, spanning a few generations from wearing Qing Dynasty style clothing to some resembling more modern day style.

On the roof top there were big stone columns with smaller ones in between like today's fence to prevent people from falling over (I don't know enough architectural terms). There were big holes every few feet apart on the stone floor. My first impression was for drainage, silly me but when we finally finished the self guided tour the owner said that back in the old days bandits heard of their village and often came to rob so they had guns and even canons (I know nothing about firearms either) to fought them off and the holes were where the guns and canons would have been. 

Your wife may know more of this part of her ancestry. 

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