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Kung Hei Fat Choi!

By Talez in News
Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 10:32:44 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Kung Hei Fat Choi to all the Chinese K5 members out there!

For all who have no idea what I'm talking about, February 1st is Chinese New Year.

While it may be strange, Chinese New Year never occurs on the same day. Unlike the Gregorian Calendar of western civilisation, the chinese use the Lunar Calendar which has been used since 2697BC or 2637BC depending on who you speak to.

Chinese time is broken into days, lunar months, lunar years, and cycles of both 12 and 60 years. At the moment we're in the 79th 60 year cycle, the second 12 year cycle about to begin the year of the sheep or goat (depending on who you ask).

To keep the lunar calendar in line with the solar calendar the Chinese actually add a leap month every 30 to 34 months. This month is considered to be highly unlucky but is neccessary to keep the seaons in line with the months. Incindentally, this leap year causes the Chinese New Year to stay within the months of January and February.

Chinese New Year is not a random occurance though. It always happens on the second new moon after the Winter Solstice, the "shortest" day of the year and December 22nd on our calendar.

The other thing about Chinese New Year is that the festivites last fifteen days instead of the usual one in our culture. Each of the fifteen days holds a special significance. While too long for this article, you can find out about each day's significance here.

Even if you are a westerner, Chinese New Year makes a wonderful holiday and gives a chance for us to understand a different culture and their traditions. If you get a chance, I encourage you to go visit chinese communities and engage in the festivities.

Have fun and Kung Hei Fat Choi to you all!


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Kung Hei Fat Choi! | 46 comments (43 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
So now I'm curious... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
by epcraig on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 10:18:18 PM EST

Is "Happy Chinese New Year!" an adequate translation of "Kung Hei Fat Choi!" ?

There is no EugeneFreeNet.org, there is an efn.org

meaning of "Kung Hei Fat Choi" (5.00 / 1) (#27)
by AtomicBomb on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 06:22:03 PM EST

The correct translation is probably "wish you earn a lot of money". It is the first phrase that any adults in Hongkong will speak to each other during Lunar New Year. It may not be as common in other parts of China/ other Chinese communities.

[ Parent ]
Gong Shi Fa Tsai (none / 0) (#39)
by minimalist on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 05:05:06 AM EST

In areas where Mandarin is more widely spoken you hear "Gong Shi Fa Tsai" - which is exactly the same meaning as Gong Hay Fat Choi. It means "congratulations on making it rich". If you say Gong Shi Fa Tsai to someone younger than yourself (especially a young child), then expect the reply "Hong Bau Na Lai" (hand over the red envelope). It is common at Chinese New Year for adults to give red envelopes filled with money to little kids.

[ Parent ]
Gong shi shing nian! (4.66 / 3) (#3)
by Anonymous 7324 on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 10:32:59 PM EST

I suspect the others must be Cantonese or other dialects. Above is the standard Mandarian spelt phonetically.

You sound like (4.33 / 3) (#6)
by JChen on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 11:28:46 PM EST

you have no teeth.

Let us do as we say.
[ Parent ]
Well... (3.00 / 2) (#9)
by ShadowNode on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 12:28:17 AM EST

Cantonese is more common.

[ Parent ]
It's all relative (4.50 / 2) (#10)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 12:52:19 AM EST

In Hong Kong and most Chinese communities in the west it is, but in the world Mandarin is more common by a factor of roughly 15.

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell

[ Parent ]
pin yin (none / 0) (#36)
by turkeybot on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 09:27:48 PM EST

in pin yin (which is the official, or most official) Romanization of Mandarin, the above would be "Gong xi xing nian" meaning, "congradulations, new year" the most commonly known Cantonese phrase would be this is Mandarin: gong xi fa cai, which, if I'm not mistaken means congrats, and good fortune, or something like that, I'm just learning here, so tone marks have been ommitted... but regardless, happy lunar new year! anyone get any red envelopes? I didn't. :(

[ Parent ]
All Wrong. (none / 0) (#38)
by darthaya on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 11:32:42 PM EST

Correct version is

"Gong Xi Fa Cai".

however the mainland folks don't usually say it this way.

They use

"Xin Nian Hao" (happy new year) to each other more often.

[ Parent ]

Never occurs on the same day? (4.16 / 6) (#4)
by CanSpice on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 11:03:30 PM EST

While it may be strange, Chinese New Year never occurs on the same day.
Well sure it does, just not on consecutive years. I'm sure that in the past four and a half thousand years it's fallen on a February 1 before.

hehe (4.25 / 4) (#7)
by martingale on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 11:41:47 PM EST

But did it fall on the *same* February 1 everytime? The original post was completely right, it *never* falls on the *same* day. On the other hand, it probably fell on a wednesday at least 642 times in the same period.

[ Parent ]
heheh (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by komet on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 07:53:18 AM EST

Isn't not falling on the exact same date kind of the point of a new year, or indeed a new day or a new week?

[ Parent ]

old joke (4.66 / 6) (#5)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 11:09:42 PM EST

I'm still dating my checks with Year of the Rat.

I drank what?

K5 accessible from China (2.71 / 7) (#11)
by xah on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 12:53:48 AM EST

K5 is accessible from China according to the filtering project.

This link is not one you're allowed to read in China. If you really want to make the tyrants mad, then read this one. It is probably illegal, too.

There is no substitute for freedom.

I wonder (none / 0) (#12)
by Hast on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 02:01:05 AM EST

if they filter particular users comments. Or whether they have k5 accounts to zero comments which are sensitive.

[ Parent ]
they replace them with my diaries (5.00 / 4) (#23)
by turmeric on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 11:29:12 AM EST

after all, there is no better hero of the revolution than turmeric. no-one is more loyal to chairman mao or to the bright new future of socialism.

[ Parent ]
I got your fat choi right here! (couldn't resist) (none / 0) (#13)
by lvogel on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 02:18:09 AM EST

Happy new year! Bring on the sheep and the goats! One question though - how do the Chinese celebrate the new year?
-- ----------------------
"When you're on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog!"

-a dog
Bai Ning (none / 0) (#31)
by odaiwai on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 12:30:56 AM EST

You go around to your relatives (or the wife's relatives, in my case), have dinner in their house (or all go out together), exchange 'Lai See' (lucky red pockets with money inside), make goofy faces at the little kids, take family pictures, watch cheesy movies on the TV, go up to the Peak with six billion other people, then get paged by the Windows admin because one of the Linux boxes at work has melted down so you have to taxi back to the office only to find that it's a compltely unrelated problem, so you fix it and decide to go out to the pub and listen to some loud music.

But that's just me.

-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]

with my inlaws... (none / 0) (#34)
by gt2313a on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 06:18:24 AM EST

you stay up till midnight on new years eve.  

a few minutes before midnight, to get ready to welcome in the Taoist God of Fortune at midnight you open up all the windows & doors & the gate to the house and you turn on all the lights.  At midnight, the head of the house brings in new incense for the household altar.  

Then you shake everyones hand, tell them happy new year, close up the house & go to bed.

Then, the next day you Meet Your Inlaws.  All 10,000 of them.

[ Parent ]

Say Happy Chinese New Year to other Asians (4.50 / 8) (#14)
by sticky on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 02:19:17 AM EST

And you will get a dirty look (or worse).  The proper term is Lunar New Year.  The only reason everybody calls it Chinese New Year is because the Chinese are like the Americans of the Far East.  

The Lunar New Year is celebrated throughout the Far East, but of course the imperialist Chinese pig dogs have to take it as their own holiday.

Don't eat the shrimp.---God

Japan (3.50 / 2) (#15)
by BlackFireBullet on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 03:14:45 AM EST

I have always been told that Japan was the country that the region loved to hate. Is it both of them, or is one particulaly despised?

[ Parent ]
chinese vs. japanese (none / 0) (#18)
by planders on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 09:18:16 AM EST

The Chinese are much more well represented in southeast Asia than the Japanese, in areas like Singapore, Indonesia, etc. I think this is perhaps what the original poster meant by "the Chinese are the Americans of the far east." They are seemingly everywhere and not neccesarily well-liked by the "natives." Just my opinion.

[ Parent ]
Japanese (4.00 / 2) (#32)
by odaiwai on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 12:36:34 AM EST

The Japanese are actively *loathed* by quite a lot of other Asians, primarily because the the way they treated others in the Second World War.  If your grandmother was forced to whore for the conquering Nipponese army, you probably wouldn't like them much either.

-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]

chinese vs. japanese (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by gt2313a on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 06:24:50 AM EST

when my Chinese grandfather-in-law was told his grandson was going to marry me, an american, he said he was proud "because they are the ones who beat the japanese"

FINALLY!  someone that isnt jealous of doesnt hate america!

[ Parent ]

Also (5.00 / 1) (#16)
by BlackFireBullet on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 04:48:09 AM EST

I have many chinese friends(that is, people who still have PRC citizenship, and abroad on visas), and none of them refer to it as Chinese New Year. Most of them call it Spring Feastival, and others call it Lunar New Year.

I have found that the people who call it Chinese New Year are either Taiwanese(oh, the irony) or second+ generation immagrents.

[ Parent ]

Translator problem (none / 0) (#28)
by AtomicBomb on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 06:27:27 PM EST

I think it is the fault of the early translators (around 1910). That's why people in Taiwan, which inherited many terms when KMT went over there at 1949, and older immigrants tend to stick with the older term. The direct translation should be "Spring Feastival" or "Lunar New Year".

[ Parent ]
"chinese" new year (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by gt2313a on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 10:13:46 AM EST

i was surprised, the chinese here in singapore call it "chinese new year".  why don't they just call it "new year"??  I dont go around calling jan 1 "western new year"....ok, maybe they are effected by eurocentrism, and in day-to-day life they use the western calendar, but it seems like they would then make an effort to consciously call the holiday just "new year" instead of bowing to western terminology.

anyway, +1 b/c its some good facts to know.

[ Parent ]

happy american new year! (none / 0) (#22)
by turmeric on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 11:26:54 AM EST

party time!

[ Parent ]
So, in other words (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by speek on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 05:08:23 PM EST

-1, too Chinese-centric.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

That is because (none / 0) (#37)
by darthaya on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 11:26:54 PM EST

Chinese invented it.

End of the story, just as ignorant Americans call Computer "Computer", breast implant "breast implant", Chinese can call Chinese new year whatever they wish to.

[ Parent ]

Autonyms (none / 0) (#42)
by epepke on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 03:32:19 PM EST

There are many lunar calendars around, including the Hebrew calendar, the Islamic calendar, the Indonesian calendar, at least one Indian lunar calendar, the Japanese lunar calendar which is at least close to the Chinese, and the Vietnamese lunar calendar, which is different.

"Lunar New Year" may be autonymic to Chinese, but if so, it is no less ethnocentric than, say, an American using "real money" to refer to U.S. dollars.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
why not just say happy new year? [nt] (none / 0) (#44)
by livus on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 07:43:07 PM EST

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
"Chinese" New Year (none / 0) (#45)
by minimalist on Tue Feb 04, 2003 at 09:48:22 AM EST

In over 15 years living in SE Asia I have yet to hear a Chinese person refer to "Chinese New Year" unless they were speaking to a non-Chinese speaking Westerner. mini

[ Parent ]
Hosted a Lunar New Year party once. (none / 0) (#20)
by j1mmy on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 10:05:57 AM EST

My roommate (Chinese) invited a bunch of his friends (Chinese) for hot pot, rice wine and Puzzle Fighter. Being a non-Chinese speaking westerner, I was completely lost during the toast (in Chinese) and much of the conversations. Luckily, there were a few Chinese there that didn't speak more than a few words of their native language, so I kept myself entertained by talking to them and trouncing everyone in Super Puzzle Fighter.

Cantonese is NOT more common (1.20 / 5) (#24)
by mndeg on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 02:30:30 PM EST

Cantonese is mainly spoken in Hong Kong don't be an ignorant american

Not just Hong Kong (none / 0) (#30)
by ToastyKen on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 11:53:51 PM EST

Actually, Cantonese is probably spoken by more people on the mainland.  Much of south-eastern China speaks Cantonese or some variation.  (People around Canton, surprisingly enough.)  A disproportionately large number of people from this area emigrated, which is why Cantonese is over-represented abroad.

All this actually has little to do with Hong Kong.  Cantonese has gained further momentum from Hong Kong's economic strength, of course, which is why people might have the impression that it's mainly spoken there.  It's not.  Hong Kong just has a higher profile.

But anyway, it's perfectly normal for foreigners to use the Cantonese version of the New Year's greeting, since they encounter Cantonese more than Mandarin.  It's irrelevant that Mandarin is spoken by more people back in China.

[ Parent ]

Don't tell me what to do! (none / 0) (#33)
by Rhinobird on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 12:54:25 AM EST

I'll be as ignorant as I damn well please, thank you very much!
"If Mr. Edison had thought more about what he was doing, he wouldn't sweat as much." --Nikola Tesla
[ Parent ]
don't be silly (none / 0) (#43)
by livus on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 07:41:50 PM EST

  1. don't be silly; it's spoken all over the place.
  2. it is the prerogative of the writer of the article to greet us in whichever language s/he feels most comfortable with.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Other "New Years" (none / 0) (#25)
by X-Nc on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 03:04:53 PM EST

This was good. I think I'll post an article on the Thai New Year and it's cultural "funness".

Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.
Thai New Year (none / 0) (#40)
by minimalist on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 07:20:34 AM EST

The Thais have at least 3 New Years that are celebrated by large numbers of people. Due to the very large Chinese population, of course Chinese New Year is celebrated. There are a lot of Muslims in (Southern)Thailand who celebrate the Islamic New Year, but locals say you haven't been to Thailand until you have experienced Songkraan, the truly Thai New Year/Water celebration, where everyone goes around drenching each other in water and smearing white paste (flour and water) all over each other's faces. The tradition is stronger in the North and the festivities last for days on end. Uptight Bangkokians usually just go in for a single day. My first trip to Bangkok was during Songkraan and I was amazed to see a chap in a business suit get completely soaked by a bunch of passers-by. My own drenching followed soon after and I learned quickly that you don't wear anything expensive if you are stepping out of the door. Mini

[ Parent ]
Songkran in the new world (none / 0) (#46)
by X-Nc on Tue Feb 04, 2003 at 12:42:19 PM EST

It is a great holiday. The traditional holiday is three days long. I spent last year's celebration at a local Thai monastery. The food and the people were great. And while I couldn't understand anything anyone said, I understand that the Thai ambassador's speech and Q&A went well. They didn't do the water thing because it was raining fairly hard all day. The monks said it was blessed rain. :-)

Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.
[ Parent ]
Gung Haggis Fat Choy! (4.50 / 2) (#29)
by Ruidh on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 10:49:36 PM EST

Now, this event is right up my alley...
Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner

I did go to the LNY parade this morning. Had a great time.
"Laissez-faire is a French term commonly interpreted by Conservatives to mean 'lazy fairy,' which is the belief that if governments are lazy enough, the Good Fairy will come down from heaven and do all their work for them."

For giggles, I'll also point out that in Vietnam (none / 0) (#41)
by graal on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 10:26:56 AM EST

...this holiday is celebrated as Tet.

For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)

Kung Hei Fat Choi! | 46 comments (43 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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