The phrase Gong Xi Gong Xi resounds everywhere during Chinese New Year. In fact, one translation of the New Years song explains:
(In) Every big street (and) little alley The first sentence (we) say When (we) see each other) Must be” “Congratulations! Congratulations!” Congratulations! Congratulations! Congratulations to you!
Since it is so popular, some may think it’s a traditional song or folksong, but it was written by a popular Chinese composer, Chen Gexin, with the original title: Wishing You Prosperity and Happiness. The literal meaning of “Gong Xi” is “congratulations”. Written by Chen Gexin on the occasion of China’s liberation after the Sino-Japanese war in 1945, the lyrics use the most popular New Year’s phrase and talk about the coming of Spring, so the song quickly became a favorite during Chinese New Year celebrations.
Here’s a version that shows the Chinese characters and gives tips on pronouncing the lyrics to the song:
Here’s a fun bilingual version of a different Chinese New Years Song with lyrics in Chinese and English. Even though it’s a different song, you can hear the same chorus of Gong Xi Gong Xi, that rings out everywhere during this beautiful and happy celebration.
Chinese New Year lasts for a full 15 days of festivities. It’s a great opportunity to combine fun and play with learning more about Chinese language and culture.
And if you don’t speak any Mandarin, don’t worry. This popular New Year’s song -Gong Xi Gong Xi - is really easy for both children and adults to learn. Here is a version in pinyin and English as well as two video versions to help you sing or share this song with children at this exciting time of year.
Gong Xi Gong Xi
Měi tiáo dà jiē xiǎo xiàng (Every big street little alley)
Měi gè rén de zuǐ lǐ (In everyone’s mouth)
Jiàn miàn dì yī jù huà (The first sentence (we) say when (we) see each other)
Jiù shì gong xǐ gong xǐ (Must be” “Congratulations! Congratulations!”)
Gōng xǐ, gong xǐ, gong xǐ nǐ ya, (Congratulations! Congratulations! Congratulations to you!)
Gong xǐ, gong xǐ, gong xǐ nǐ (Congratulations! Congratulations! Congratulations to you!)
We are so pleased to have a guest post about Chinese Lunar New Year by the very talented vocalist and musician Toni Wang, from A Little Mandarin. Make sure you read until the end to find out how to get a FREE download of her wonderful version of the traditional Happy New Year Song.
There are many ways to enjoy and introduce children to Chinese New Year but one of the nicest is through music. Much like Christmas music seems to permeate the air in the US and Europe for the month of December ‘New Years Music’ suffuses China during the 15 day New Year holiday. Holiday songs can be heard on the radio, in the stores and on the streets.
The Happy New Year Song (Xīn Nián Hǎo 新年好) is a great introduction to Chinese New Year traditions.
This song expresses the joy and fun of celebrating the New Year. Along the way it points out some of the many New Years traditions. The song opens with “Four seasons harvest is in”, like many cultures New Year is a time to celebrate the achievements of the past year and to look forward to the upcoming year.
“In the streets and alleys are firecrackers”, firecrackers are one of the many traditional ways to ring in the New Year. You may have noticed this tradition borrowed in your own country. During New Year people light firecrackers and hang red paper decorations or banners to ward off evil spirits.
“Dragon dances, stilt walking” are two more traditional activities. Stilt walking is a traditional Chinese folk art, practiced especially in Northern China. Dragon dances can be seen in many towns and cities in China and across the world. The dragon in Chinese culture is benevolent and thought to bring good luck. The dragon dance is a vibrant way to scare away evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year. One dancer controls the head and the rest make up to body. The length of the dragon depends on how many dancer the troupe has and can be over one hundred feet long! Proper timing and coordination is essential for the dancers to make the dragon shimmer and wave down the street. Look for the “Pearl of the Dragon”, a person in front waving a stick with a big ball on top. This person serves as a conductor showing the dragon which way to go. The dragon dance is usually accompanied by drums, cymbal or gongs filling the air with music.
“Welcome the wealth god, welcome wealth” The fifth day of the Chinese New Year is the day to welcome the god of wealth into your house. Better leave a door open or stay home to make sure he can get in providing prosperity for the next year. Children will have already enjoyed receiving Red Envelopes on the first day of New Year. The red envelopes have crisp bills tucked inside lucky red paper. “Wearing new clothes, wearing a new hat” During New Year people traditionally don their new clothing to symbolize welcoming new things.
There are many ways to participate in Chinese New Year celebrations around the world. You can see if your city or town has a Dragon dance or Lion dance show or perhaps a lantern festival celebrating the end on the fifteenth day of the New Year. You can listen to that song here and use it to discuss the many Chinese New Year traditions mentioned within the lyrics.
Free Download of Happy New Year Song, Xīn Nián Hǎo
Toni is a Shanghai-born NYC mom raising her three children in English, Mandarin and French. She produced A Little Mandarin as a way to provide high quality Mandarin language children’s music for her own children. Her album has fifteen tracks providing a modern update to classic Chinese children’s music. Anyone who has been to China will recognize these children’s songs and should enjoy the refreshingly modern take.
“The singer has a beautiful vocal range and the ability to sing popular children’s song in Mandarin. The music itself is cheerful, and upbeat! This is a perfect addition to anyone’s musical library, and a must when exposing children to different languages.” – Frances Evans, Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes.