Chinese New Year, often called Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, is the most important traditional holiday in China and also for overseas Chinese families. It is a time to reunite with family members and friends.
The 2023 Chinese New Year begins on January 22. Are you living in an area with many Chinese or have Chinese friends? They may greet with you “Gong Xi Fa Cai” when they meet you or when you visit a Chinese family during the new year holiday.
“Gong Xi Fa Cai” is a typical Chinese New Year greeting, and even a toddler might say it to you.
You may be confused about its meaning, why Chinese use it, and how to respond, we’ve got all the information you need here.
What Does Gong Xi Fa Cai Means?
“Gong Xi Fa Cai” is a very common New Year‘s greeting that the Chinese often say while wishing a Happy New Year to others.
“Gong Xi Fa Cai” is often the opening word people say to others in the spring festival, meaning “May you become rich in the new year” or “Wish you to be prosperous in the coming year!”
It can be a response to “Xin Nian Kuai Le”, which is another New Year’s greeting, generally used to wish a Happy New Year. “Gong Xi Fa Cai” is the most common way for business owners and coworkers to express “happy new year” in Chinese.
“Gong Xi Fa Cai” or 恭喜发财 (Chinese Mandarin – China official language).
“Gong Xi Fa Cai” is composed of two phases: “Gong Xi” and “Fa Cai”. The term “Gong Xi” literally translates as “congratulations” or “good wishes”, while “Fa Cai” means “growing in wealth” or “prosperity”. Therefore, the combined meaning is “wish your wealth grow”.
If you want to dig much, “Fa Cai” consists of “Fa” and “Cai”. “Fa” literally means grow or raise, and “Cai” means wealth.
Given that Chinese people typically place a great value on money, it’s a nice and popular way to convey your best wishes to others.
“Gong Xi Fa Cai” and “Gong Hey Fat Choy”
“Gong Xi Fa Cai” and “Gong Hey Fat Choy” has the same meaning – wishing you to make lots of money.
“Gong Hei Fat Choy” is the transliteration of the Mandarin “Gong Xi Fa Cai” when spoken in Cantonese. Their pronunciations are similar.
Why Do the Chinese Love Money So Much?
Every culture values money, but the Chinese are likely to be among the few who use money-related words as greetings during New Year.
You may be surprised that there is a money god – “The God of Fortune” created by the Chinese, they worship and pray to bring more money in the coming year, especially during Chinese New Year.
Lunar New Year is the beginning of the year for Chinese, and is given a certain meaning of wishes by the Chinese people. This is the time when people like to hear and say auspicious words to give a good start for the coming year.
Therefore, Lunar New Year is the time when it is undoubtedly easiest to please a person by wishing him the strongest wishes come true for the new year.
As you can understand, besides emotions or feelings, almost all needs can be realized by money, including quality of life, family health, children’s education, happiness, sense of achievement, and self-confidence, but also gaining respect and recognition from others.
It is money that can help you solve problems and make such life achievements. And almost all people wish to be rich, so everyone says “Gong Xi Fa Cai” in the New Year. This is not meaning that getting rich is the most important, but money should be in their hands when needed.
Here is why the Chinese value money so much:
- Health is important, but except for the sick, most people are in good health and have no further needs. Money can provide better medical care to patients.
- Work and career are important, but the majority of people agree that career success is to earn a lot of money.
- Happiness is also what we’re seeking for, but most of the problems that affect happiness can be solved by money.
How to Respond to “Gong Xi Fa Cai”
You may be wondering how to answer when someone greets you with “Gong Xi Fa Cai” or “Kung Hei Fat Choy” during the Chinese New Year.
There are certain phrases you can use to respond.
- You can simply respond with the same phrase “Gong Xi Fa Cai”
- You can say “Happy New Year” or “Xin Nian Kuai Le”
- You can reply “Wan Shi Ru Yi”, which means “May all your wishes will come true.”
- If you are a child, you can say “Hong Bao Na Lai”. It means “May I have the red envelope, please.” The term “Hong Bao” refers to a red envelope. Red is the most auspicious color in China. Chinese parents send monetary gifts in red envelopes to their children/unmarried individuals for good wishes at Chinese New Year. So Hong Bao refers to a cash gift or lucky money. “Na Lei” means “Bring it to me.”
Gong Xi Fa Cai is an expression used to wish someone good fortune, prosperity, and success on the Chinese New Year.
May you be blessed with joy, luck, and good fortune in the year ahead.
Gong Xi Fa Cai in the Year of the Rabbit!