What do I put in a Chinese New Year card?
January 4, 2008 8:37 AM   Subscribe

What nice message can I write in a Chinese New Year card?

I'm going to send a card to a female friend of mine (I'm male) for Chinese New Year. She speaks Cantonese. We are sort of dating but no-one in her family knows for various reasons and I'm happy to keep it that way. We're both in our mid twenties.

Since I live a fair distance away and won't be anywhere near her for Chinese New Year I thought it would be nice (and a bit of a surprise) to send a card.

I did a bit of research and I think that I could get away with writing "Sun nin fai lok", but that sounds (to me) a little cold to just put that and sign my name.

Is there anything else that I could put which goes with the traditions but doesn't sound like some canned Hallmark-style greeting? For the reasons above it can't be soppy nor can it be rude as her entire family and relations will see it. Think of it as a message from one good friend to another.

Many thanks in advance for your suggestions!
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wish her prosperity and fortune and all that stuff, but also say something about growing wiser together. Or stronger together. Basically, take something you'd normally wish upon someone in a Chinese New Year card then add together.
posted by ignignokt at 9:17 AM on January 4, 2008

'Gung hei faat choi' is Cantonese for 'Congratulations and be prosperous' and is synonymous with Happy New Year... used to go down well with the Chinese students when I was at college
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:40 AM on January 4, 2008

I know the coming Chinese New Year is the year of rat. If you mention that along your other lines, it can show you put some thoughts into this, which I am sure she will appreciate.
posted by dy at 11:10 AM on January 4, 2008

I have nothing clever or unique to suggest, but here are a few very common (as in anyone whose first language is Cantonese would know them) Cantonese phrases that are used like "gung hei faat choi" and "sun nin fai lok."

sum seung see sing [heart think things happen]: may your wishes come true
maan see sing yee [every thing exceed wish]: may your wishes be exceeded
sun tai geen hong [body healthy]: good health

I can't think of any phrases that are specifically for use between couples. Only marginal one is wishing a woman "ching chun seung ju" but it's kind of cheesy (it means to be always youthful, mostly referring to appearance).
posted by bread-eater at 12:03 PM on January 4, 2008

Chinese New Year greetings are tend to focus on stuff like 1) prosperity/wealth 2) good fortune/ having wishes come true 3) good health and other happy, lucky events.

It's a very family or clan -centered affair, so remember to wish them well in the card too.

Some suggestions:
"may your year be a fruitful and prosperous one"
"best wishes in the new year of the rat"
"may you and your loved ones be blessed with good fortune and health"
posted by jollyroger at 12:05 PM on January 4, 2008

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