Useful Mandarin Phrases for Spring Festival and the Year of the Rat

By Urban Family, January 20, 2020

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This article originally appeared on our sister website, Urban Family Shanghai.

With the Chinese New Year holiday commencing on January 24, you are no doubt getting ready to enjoy your vacation either in China or abroad. For those staying here during the largest national holiday period, you can experience an authentic Spring Festival in the not-so-crowded cities, or dare to venture out and battle the masses at popular tourist destinations. Either way, to help you throw around a few native niceties during the holiday period, we’ve assembled this special Spring Festival Phrase Guide to get you through CNY. 


Year of the Rat
Shǔ nián

Spring Festival
Chūn jié

New Year’s Eve
Chú xī

Jiā rén

Lǚ xíng

Reunion Dinner
Nián yè fàn

Red Envelope
Hóng bāo



Spring Festival Gala
Chūn wǎn

Biān pào/ bào zhú

Lantern Festival
Yuán xiāo jié


Have a Happy New Year!
Xīn nián kuài lè!

Happy Chinese New Year!
Chūn jié kuài lè!

Wish you have an auspicious year!
Wàn shì rú yì!

Wish you make a good fortune in the coming year!
Gōng xǐ fā cái!

I was born in the Year of the Rat.
Shǔ nián shì wǒ de běn mìng nián.

I was born in the Year of the Rat. (Short form)
shǔ shǔ.

What’s your Chinese zodiac?
Nǐ de shēngxiào shì shénme?

What’s your Chinese zodiac? (Short form)
Nǐ shǔ shén me?

Wish you good health! 
Zhù nǐ shēntǐ jiànkāng!

What’s the origin of this activity?
Néng gěi wǒ jiǎng jiǎng zhè xiàng huó dòng de qǐ yuán mā?

What’s your plan for the Spring Festival?
Chūn jié yǒu shén me ān pái mā?

Can I have some dumplings?
Yǒu jiǎo zi mā?

What’s the filling of the dumplings/tang yuan?
Jiǎo zi/ tāng yuán shì shén me xiàn’er de? 

Can I take a photo of this?
Wǒ néng gěi zhè gè pāi zhāng zhào mā?

Does this train go to XXX?
Zhè tang huǒ chē shì qù XXX de mā?

I don’t eat peanut/dairy products/seafood.
Wǒ bú chī huā shēng/nǎi zhìpǐn/ hǎi xiān. 

READ MORE: 17 Useful Mandarin Phrases for Traveling in China 

Good luck out there and happy Chinese New Year!

[Cover image via Unsplash]

This article was originally published by our sister magazine Urban Family Shanghai. For more articles like this, visit the Urban Family website, or follow the Urban Family WeChat account (ID: urbanfamilyshanghai).

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