Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Happy New Year”
Chinese New Year Eve – 二九暝 – li gau mi
Red packets – 红包 – ang bao
Happy New Year – 新年快乐 – xin ni kuai lok
May all things go smoothly – 万事如意 – ban si ru yi
Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Happy New Year”
Hey there, this is Eugene from LearnDialect.sg! Wow, Chinese New Year is just round the corner! This is the single most important festival for Chinese all around the world and signifies a time for family members to gather as well as a new beginning. From having reunion dinners to giving red packets, Chinese people practice multiple cultural traditions which we will explore some on today’s How Do You Say. Are you excited to find out? Let’s go!
In the few weeks leading up to Chinese New Year, prices of food will start to increase. This is especially so for food items that symbolize prosperity and wealth, for example, abalone. Chinese families typically stock up food items for reunion dinner on Chinese New Year eve, otherwise known as “二九暝”. “二九暝”, translated literally into “twenty-ninth night”, is the term conventionally used to refer to Chinese New Year eve. This is the case, no matter whether this last lunar month – prior to Chinese New Year – has 29 or 30 days.
On the first day of Chinese New Year, you will see Chinese families, dressed typically in red, visiting extended family members. Now, what are some festive greetings that we can use?
Well, you can’t miss this one as it is more commonly heard in Singapore – 新年快乐. “新年快乐” means “Happy New Year”. “新年” refers to “new year” while “快乐” refers to “happy”.
Another popular greeting is 万事如意. “万” means “10 thousand”, “事” means “matters” and “如意” means “as you wish”. As such, putting them together, if you greet people with “万事如意”, it means that you hope all things will go smoothly for them!
In fact, you can put these 2 greetings together – 新年快乐, 万事如意. Happy New Year and I hope everything goes on well for you!
Now, to celebrate the festive spirit of giving as well as to start the new year with tons of wealth, elders will then give lucky money – in the form of red packets or 红包 – to the younger generation. The colour red or “红” in Hokkien, is believed by the Chinese to bring about good luck and ward off evil spirits. Have you received any 红包 so far?
To our Chinese listeners, what other traditions do your family practice during Chinese New Year? To our non-Chinese listeners, what do you think of the Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore?
Our Philosophy for Learning Hokkien in Singapore
The pronunciation of Hokkien words varies from one region to another. For example, Penang Hokkien sounds different from Taiwanese Hokkien. At LearnDialect.sg, we want to make learning Hokkien fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, we think it is important to listen to how Singaporeans speak Hokkien. To do that, we have an ongoing process of collecting audio recordings from at least 100 Hokkien-speaking seniors in Singapore and thereafter based our audio pronunciation on the most commonly-heard version.
In similar nature, rather than trying to figure out which Hokkien romanization system to use (e.g. Pe̍h-ōe-jī or Taiwan Romanization System), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Hokkien words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the formal romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “chia̍h” in Hokkien. However, in our “Have You Eaten” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “jiak”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “chiah”, “jia”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear.