There are multiple blessings and greetings for Chinese New Year. But there are variations even for the most basic “Happy New Year!”
The simplest is, of course, Happy New Year: 新年快乐 (xīn nián kuài lè)
China also contains many dialects, such as Cantonese, Shanghainese and the Beijing dialect. And those dialects don’t include the languages of China’s 55 ethnic minorities.
A European scholar once said that if every dialect regions became a separate country, this area would have more countries than Europe. Northerners and Southerners can rarely understand each other, even though the same written language is used.
Other than Mandarin (standardized Chinese), the most well-known Chinese language is probably Cantonese. It’s more difficult for foreigners to learn. English isn’t a tonal language. Mandarin has 4 tones. And Cantonese has 9.
But if you wish to learn, “Happy New Year” in Cantonese is pronounced: san1 nin4 faai3 lok6!
春节快乐 (chūn jiē kuài lè)
Happy Spring Festival in Mandarin.
ceon1 zit3 faai3 lok6!
Happy Spring Festival in Cantonese.
You can also say春节愉快 (chūn jiē yú kuài), which uses a more formal way to say “happy.” In Cantonese, it’s: ceon1 zit3 jyu4 faai3
In Cantonese-speaking regions, it’s more popular to say恭喜发财(gung1 hei2 faat3 coi4). This is a blessing for wealth and prosperity. The phrase is also used in other regions (Mandarin: gong xǐ fā cái). But the Cantonese like to say this in place of the usual “Happy New Year.”
Some more poetic and “advanced” variations of “Happy New Year”:
恭贺新禧 (gōng hè xīn xǐ)
Literal translation: respectful congratulations on the New Year.
新春志禧 (xīn chūn zhì xǐ)
Literal translation: to record the happiness from the new spring.