During the Lunar Chinese New Year period, one common phrase heard is "gōng xǐ fā cái" 恭喜发财. What does that mean?
When the New Year comes around, what wishes come first to mind when making your New Year's resolution? Lose weight? Quit smoking? Spend more time with the kids?
You forgot about GETTING MORE MONEY! Is that not worthy of a New Year's resolution? Or let's get more specific: let's GET RICH - REALLY, REALLY RICH! Whenever you meet anyone you know during the Chinese New Year period (lunar), that is one common greeting: "gōng xǐ fā cái" 恭喜发财; or also commonly in Cantonese pronunciation "gung1 hei2 faat3 choi4". That could be translated as meaning "Wishing you prosperity"; or perhaps more literally as "congratulations prosper"; or even more literally as 恭 [gōng] respectful, 喜 [xǐ] felicitations, 发(發,髮)[fā] develop, 财(財)[cái] riches.
That's right: I "WISH YOU GET RICH" is one of the best things you could say to a Chinese during the Lunar New Year. Why do you think handing out and receiving wads of cash in the form of red envelopes "hóngbāo" 紅包 is such a preoccupation during Chinese New Year!
So, at the start of the New Year, it's important to get your priorities right!!
The video above is of a Chinese New Year pop song with the very title "gōng xǐ fā cái" 恭喜发财. The video is sung by Hong Kong megastar, ANDY LAU. He actually says "gōngxǐ nǐ fācái": 恭喜 - congratulations (wish), 你 - you, 发财 - prosper (get rich); so "you" is explicitly there, and thus it could also be translated as "wish you get rich". Strangely, Andy is seen on the video riding on the back of an eagle and passing not only famous landmarks of China, but also landmarks around the world - which didn't have much to do with the lyrics. But I can see he's spreading "fortune/happiness/luck" around the world... or maybe that's "Eagle Class" for a jetsetter who has already gotten rich and can sing happily about "gōng xǐ fā cái" 恭喜发财 without really needing any more New Year wishes to "get rich" from you or anyone...
Maybe if I quit wishing for a trimmer tummy each year and concentrated on wishes to get richer, I might be singing as happily as Andy Lau. Please everyone, wish me "gōng xǐ fā cái" 恭喜发财 a thousand times each!
[Here is Yellowbridge.com's dictionary entry on "gōng xǐ fā cái" 恭喜发财 - explore the component words & characters, all with audio; and each individual character with written stroke order animation, etymology origins and sentence examples. Click the following link for the other top 20 free online Chinese dictionaries at LearnchineseOK.com.]