You probably already know that Chinese people also celebrate another “New Year”, the Lunar New Year. This year, we are going to celebrate the Chinese New Year (the Lunar New Year) from February 16. Although the Chinese New Year is not coming yet, It’s acceptable to say “Happy Chinese New Year” right now because we want to feel the joy of celebration in advance.
Besides that, Chinese people also have a very special tradition. We name the upcoming year after the name of an animal. Traditionally, Chinese people treat 12 years as a cycle. It’s a calculation based on the orbital period of the planet Jupiter. So we name each year of a cycle after the names of 12 animals. We call these animals “十二生肖” [shíèr shēngxiào] (the Chinese zodiac). This time, we are saying goodbye to the Year of the Chicken and welcoming the Year of the Dog.
Chinese are not the only one people who use animal zodiac signs. Other Asian or European countries have similar cultures. However, the Chinese zodiac plays a very important role in our daily life. We believe these animals can determine our character and future. If you were born in that year, then you would be affected by the animal of that year. We also use the Chinese zodiac to find a suitable partner because it tells us the best combination among these 12 animals.
So the Chinese New Year is coming. We should learn some basic blessing words for the New Year. You can say “新年快樂” [xīnnián kuàilè] (Happy New Year). However, traditional blessings like “新年恭喜” [xīnniná gōngxǐ] (Best wishes for a happy new year) or “恭喜發財” [gōngxǐ fācái] (Wishing you happiness and prosperity) will be better. Apart from this, we can use some phrases containing the character “狗” [gǒu] (dog) because the upcoming year is the Year of the Dog. For example, you can say “狗來旺” [gǒu lái wàng] (The dog’s barking brings good fortune) because the pronunciations of “旺” [wàng] (good fortune) and “汪” [wāng] (dog’s barking) are similar. You can also say “狗來福” [gǒu lái fú] (The dog brings happiness). “來福” [láifú] (Happiness is coming) is a popular pet name for dogs in Chinese world.
Finally, I wish you “狗年行大運” [gǒunián xíng dàyùn], which means that may the Year of the Dog bring you great fortune. I hope you will accomplish all of your wishes in the upcoming year, including the one about learning Chinese. Don’t forget to say “Happy New Year” or “新年恭喜” [xīnnián gōngxǐ] to your family or friends. Blessing words are always the best gifts we can offer to our loved ones. We can celebrate the New Year twice a year. How lucky we are, aren’t we?