春节 / Chūn jié (Spring Festival / Chinese New Year) is the most colorful, festive holiday on China’s calendar. There’s no sleeping through the thunder of firecrackers on Chinese New Year’s eve, as the whole nation welcomes in the Lunar New Year.
As a foreigner in China, it’s likely you’ll be invited to join your公司年会 / gōngsī nián huì (company annual meeting). If you have a close Chinese friend or partner, you might even be invited to a团圆饭 / tuányuán fàn (the New Year’s Eve family reunion).
To equip you for both scenarios, we’ve put together some handy phrases, plus a few cultural tidbits.
公司年会 / gōngsī nián huì / Company Annual Meeting
The general purpose of the 公司年会 is to celebrate the past Lunar year of business, and look forward to the next. Speeches will be made to summarize the company’s achievements and plans, and to recognize outstanding employees. There may be a lucky draw and, very often, there’ll be a whole program of dancing, singing and other performances. You may well be roped into getting up on stage too, so be prepared to get involved!
Useful phrases for公司年会:
|Happy New Year!
|Tóngshìmen, wǒ gěi dàjiā jìngjiǔ wèi wǒmen lǎobǎn –gānbēi!
|Colleagues, I’d like to make a toast to our boss – cheers!
|Míngnián yǒu shénme dǎsuàn?
|What are your goals/resolutions for the New Year?
|Jīnnián nián huì nǐ biǎoyǎn shénme jiémù
|At this year’s annual party, what will you perform?
|Nǐ zài nián huì shàng biǎoyǎn de jiémù zhēn bàng!
|Your performance at the annual party was fantastic!
年夜饭/ niányè fàn / Chinese New Year’s Eve Family Meal
The 年夜饭/ niányè fàn or团圆饭/ tuányuán fàn is held on Chinese New Year’s Eve with the family (团圆饭 is literally “reunion meal”). It’s a leisurely paced meal either at home or in a restaurant, with an array of dishes, lots of chatting and general family fun. Everyone, including kids, then stays up until midnight to see in the new Lunar Year and set off a storm of firecrackers (the tradition is to use the loud bangs to scare off evil spirits from the New Year).
Useful phrases for年夜饭:
|Happy New Year! (use as a greeting instead of 你好)
|Happy New Year!
|xūyào tuō xiézi ma?
|Should I take my shoes off? [upon arriving at a home]
|zhè shì yīdiǎn xiǎoyìsi, xīwàng nǐ xǐhuan.
|This is a small gift. I hope you like it.
|I can’t eat any more!
|ni zuo de cài tèbié hǎochī!
|The food you cooked was really good!
|Zhù nǐmen shēntǐ jiànkāng, cháng mìng bǎi suì!
|I wish you all good health and a longevity!
|nín shēntǐ zěnmeyàng ？ / nín shēntǐ tǐng hǎo de?
|How is your health? (to ask senior people how they’re doing)
|xuéxí zěnmeyàng ？
|How are your studies going? (to ask kids)
|最近在哪儿发财? / 您在哪儿高就？
|zuìjìn zài nǎr fācái ？ / nín zài nǎr gāojiù ？
|How’s working been going?
Any particular etiquette to watch out for during these celebrations?
- Let senior members sit and start eating first.
- When you clink glasses with others, your cup edge should be lower than others’. This is to show your respect.
- Gifts are customary at the年夜饭, so bring along fruit (such as apples, which symbolize peace and safety), wine, or tea.
- You’ll want to prepare 红包 / hóngbāo for the kids, which are the red envelopes containing cash.
Don’t worry about getting it all right though! As a 外宾 / wàibīn (foreign guest), you’ll find Chinese are very hospitable and grateful for any amount of effort you make to join in.
Embrace the feasting and the firecrackers, and enjoy. 新年快乐!