Thursday, January 26, 2006

Chinese Characters (for the holidays)

I just found Good Characters site that shows how to write "Gong xi fa cai!" wishing you a prosperous new year (a.k.a. Happy New Year) - including the right stroke order. And if you are a child - and want to reply with the "classic" give me a red envelope line, you can also see how to write that "Hong bao na lai". The reply is both rude and cute but it really is for children.

"Hong bao" in Mandarin (or "lai see" in Caontonese) are the traditional lucky red envelopes. You can give them to children, or people in the generation younger that you for New Years and you can use them to present money to people on other occasions as well. Holidays - not for paying bills or the mundane!

"Fu" is luck and for Chinese New Year you want to post it upside down - because of the sounds of the phrase "Fu dao le" it is then read as "luck is here". This is the only time that I know where you can get away with posting the characters upside down. Care2 Greeting cards takes about it toward the end of their Chinese New Year page, and they have a "Fu" e-card that (yes) shows the stroke order, and then turns it upside-down for you. Luck to you in the coming year!

The stroke order really is important to create characters that look balanced. Even a beginner using a ball point pen will have a much better looking character if they follow stroke order. I have had people who know no Chinese look at two attempts at creating a character - they so far have always said that the one that used the correct stroke order looks 'better' or more balanced or more artisitic.

Chinese New Year characters
is gold. (no stroke order.)

The Good Characters is a company specializing in the art and science of Chinese naming - they say they can create "good names" for you or your business in Chinese. I am not endorsing them, I don't know them and I don't usually link to commercial sites. I just love that you can see the character being created. They also have a page for the literal "Happy New Year" Xin Nian Kuai le.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Someone else out there has talked about "hong bao na lai" at

Thought it might be of interest, it's followed by their thoughts on a New Year's trip to temple.
- Mei Que