Wish in Chinese: Your Guide to Chinese New Year Lantern Wishes

And What to Write on Your Lantern

Chinese New Year: Lantern Making
Before launching lanterns, Chinese New Year's revelers write messages on colorful paper lanterns. Lauren Mack / About.com

Chinese New Year includes two weeks of celebration with most activities taking place on just three days: New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, and Lantern Festival, which is celebrated on the last day of Chinese New Year. Here's what you should know about the Lantern Festival, including the symbolism of the celebration and which characters to write on your own lantern to wish in Chinese.

What Is the Chinese New Year Lantern Festival?

Every year, on the last day of Chinese New Year, families from Taiwan to China place colorful lanterns outside their homes and launch them into the night sky.

Each lantern corresponds to a particular wish the family has for the new year, with the colors having various meanings. For example, sending off a red lantern represents a wish for good fortune, while orange symbolizes money and white symbolizes good health.

There are many stories about why this festival takes places. For example, in one of the origin legends, Emperor Qinshihuang, the first emperor to unite China, held the first Lantern Festival to ask Taiyi, the ancient god of heaven, for health and good weather. In another of these legends, which is rooted in Taoism, the Lantern Festival was first put on to celebrate the birthday of Tianguan, the god of good fortune. Other explanations center around the Jade Emperor, and a maid named Yuan Xiao.

Wish in Chinese: What to Write on Your Lantern

The festival has changed a lot over the years. Simple handheld paper lanterns have been replaced with elaborate colorful lanterns of all shapes and sizes.

But the tradition of sending wishes to be granted into the sky has remained. Many revelers enjoy writing riddles or wishes on the lanterns before sending them airborne. Here are some examples of what you may want to write on your own lantern, include the Chinese symbols and pronunciation.

  • Onward and upward: 步步高昇 (bù bù gāoshēng)
  • Good health: 身體健康 (shēntǐ jiànkāng)
  • All wishes come true: 心想事成 (xīn xiǎng shì chén)
  • Be happy and carry laughter all the time: 笑口常開 (xiào kǒu cháng kāi)
  • Business will grow and get better: 事業蒸蒸日上開 (shìyè zhēng zhēngrì shàngkāi)
  • Everything will be lucky and go smoothly: 萬事大吉 (wànshìdàjí)
  • Things will happen as you wish: 事事如意、心想事成 (shì shì rúyì, xīn xiǎng shì chéng)
  • Pass an entrance exam and get enrolled in a school: 金榜題名 (jīnbǎng tímíng)
  • Harmonious family and prosperous life: 家和萬事興 (jiā hé wànshì xīng)
  • Work smoothly: 工作順利 (gōngzuò shùnlì)
  • Quickly find Mr. Right: 早日找到如意郎君 (zǎorì zhǎodào rúyì láng jūn)
  • Make a fortune: 賺錢發大財 (zhuànqián fā dà cái)

Whatever your wish, Chinese New Year can be a wonderful opportunity to set the tone for the year ahead. To learn more about this ancient holiday and the traditions that go with it, take a look at these other helpful resources:

Chinese New Year: Origins of the Lantern Festival

How to Celebrate Chinese New Year's Day With Fun Traditions

Learn the Customs and Traditions to Celebrate Chinese New Year

The History of Chinese New Year

Learn How to Celebrate Chinese New Year’s Eve

Lantern Colors: Make Your Wish Come True by Picking the Right Color

What Is the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival?