new year
Chinese New Year also known as Spring Festival will begin on Jan. 31 ushering in the Year of the Horse. Wikimedia Commons

Gung hei fat choi!

That’s the greeting many will say on Jan. 31 to mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year. The important Chinese festival, also known as the Spring Festival, marks the start of new life and the season of ploughing and sowing. The holiday is traditionally linked to honoring the household, heavenly gods and ancestors. Today, China celebrates New Year’s Day on Jan. 1, but it marks the Chinese New Year as a time to spend with family and relax from work.

The two-week holiday is divided into two parts. The first week is designated as time to spend with family and friends. The second week involves traditions designed to bring good luck. The festivities end with a Lantern Festival.

Before the holiday begins, families tend to clean their homes, but throughout the holiday, dust brushes and brooms are hidden so “good luck cannot be swept away.” Typically, the holiday begins on New Year’s Eve, when families gather for a large traditional meal in which regional foods are served. At midnight, fireworks are set off to “frighten” evil spirits. Red is a common color for the holiday because it symbolizes fire, which wards off evil.

The holiday itself is usually spent with relatives, shopping, watching fireworks and in some cases -- a religious ceremony honoring heaven, earth and other deities. Other traditions include stuffing red envelopes with money and candy and placing them under children's pillows, to open on New Year’s Day.

Each year corresponds with one of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs and animals. Each sign is believed to influence the personalities of those born in those years. In 2014, it will be the Year of the Horse. Those born under this sign are believed to possess good communication skills and are cheerful and stubborn. They crave success, tradition says, and they are popular and talented.

For those who want to join in on the festivities, below are 25 inspirational sayings, greetings and proverbs to usher in the new year:


Happiness, Prosperity, Longevity

福禄寿 fú lù shòu

Wish you luck in the Year of the Horse

马年大吉 Mǎnián dàjí

Happy New Year

恭贺新禧 Gōnghèxīnx

May all your wishes come true

心想事成 Xīnxiǎng shì chéng

The spirit of the dragon and horse

龙马精神 Lóng mǎ jīngshén

Enjoy good health

身体健康 Shēntǐ jiànkāng

A bright and lively spirit (especially used for children under the age of 10, wishing them to be active and smart)

精灵活泼 Jīnglíng huópō

May your wealth come to fill a hall.

金玉滿堂 Jīnyùmǎntáng

May you realize your ambitions.

大展鴻圖 Dàzhǎnhóngtú

Greet the New Year and encounter happiness.

迎春接福 Yíngchúnjiēfú

May all your wishes be fulfilled.

萬事如意 Wànshìrúyì

Greetings for Year of the Horse:

Get wealthy quick

马上有钱 Mǎshàng yǒu qián

Best wishes for the Year of the Horse

马年大吉 Mǎ nián dàjí

Success is on its way

马到成功 Mǎdàochénggōng


Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.

Make happy those who are near, and those who are far will come.

He who hurries can not walk with dignity.

If you want 1 year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.

If you want happiness for a lifetime; help someone else.

A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood.

If you hurry through long days, you will hurry through short years

Forget the favors given; remember those received

If Heaven made someone, earth can find some use for them

Blame yourself as you blame others; forgive others as you forgive yourself

"I heard" is good; "I saw" is better