If you do a quick internet search, you’ll find the most popular Chinese New Year expressions are
新年快乐 Xīn Nián Kuài Le, or 年年有余 nián nián you yu.
These expressions are found everywhere on the internet because they are actually used regularly in China. The first one is simply “happy new year” and the second one means “every year have fish” – a way of wishing prosperity for all.
You’ll also hear 过年好 guo nian hao – meaning the old year has passed, and indicating best wishes for the passing of the old year and the beginning of the new.
With the year of the sheep or goat ( 羊 yang can mean both sheep and goat) arriving, expressions with these animals are popular. Whilst expressions relating to goat are common , the cuddly toys which fill shops every Chinese New Year are more likely to be sheep than goats – sheep, in the soft toy variety, are more likely to be cuddly and warm.
A popular expression of well wishes this year will be
三羊开泰 sān yáng kāi tài.
Literally, this means three goats open peace, however 泰 tai, also refers to Mt Tai, one of China’s most sacred mountains, which is believed to bring great fortune to people who climb it. Thus, the three goats are at once climbing the mountain, but are also gaining success, so the expression means three goats bring fortune.
May the Three Goats bring the fortune of Mt Tai to you and yours this Spring Festival and throughout 2015.