How a post-war celebration song became a Chinese New Year classic

Society & Culture

If you happen to be in China during Chinese New Year, you’re sure to hear the song “Congratulations” (恭喜恭喜 gōng xǐ gōng xǐ) played everywhere.

As the most important festival in China, Chinese New Year lasts 16 days, from New Year’s Eve (除夕 chú xī) to the Lantern Festival (元宵节 yuán xiāo jiē). This year, it begins tomorrow, January 25, making today New Year’s Eve.

But it’s not just during the holiday that you’d hear this song. Much like how Christmas songs begin during Thanksgiving, “Congratulations” hovers over businesses at private parties for the entire season. Just about every Chinese person knows how to sing it.

The song, however, was not written for Chinese New Year. Written by Chén Gēxīn 陈歌辛, “Congratulations” was meant to celebrate the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War, an event that greatly enhanced the Chinese people’s national spirit as never before.

The original melody was softer and slower, reflecting the complex feelings of the people post-war. Because the song debuted during Chinese New Year, it quickly became popular and was covered by different singers year after year.

One of the most well-known and beloved renditions was from a teen singer, Timi Zhuo (卓依婷 Zhuō Yītíng). The video above shows the 14-year-old girl singing “Congratulations” in her album Spring Festival Songs (春风舞曲 chūn fēng wǔ qǔ), published in 1995. Known as the “Spring Festival Angel” (贺岁天使 hè suì tiān shǐ), the Taiwanese girl has recorded more than 40 songs about Chinese New Year.

Lyrics

每条大街小巷 měi tiáo dà jiē xiǎo xiàng
Everywhere on the streets

每个人的嘴里 měi gè rén de zuǐ lǐ
From people’s mouths

见面第一句话 jiàn miàn dì yī jù huà
The first phrase after meeting

就是恭喜恭喜 jiù shì gōng xǐ gōng xǐ
is, Congratulations, congratulations

恭喜恭喜恭喜你呀 gōng xǐ gōng xǐ gōng xǐ nǐ ya
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you

恭喜恭喜恭喜你 gōng xǐ gōng xǐ gōng xǐ nǐ
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you

冬天已到尽头 dōng tiān yǐ dào jìn tóu
The winter has come to an end

真是好的消息 zhēn shì hǎo de xiāo xī
What good news

温暖的春风 wēn nuǎn de chūn fēng
The warm breeze of spring

就要吹醒了大地 jiù yào chuī xǐng dà dì
will wake up the earth

恭喜恭喜恭喜你呀 gōng xǐ gōng xǐ gōng xǐ nǐ ya
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you

恭喜恭喜恭喜你 gōng xǐ gōng xǐ gōng xǐ nǐ
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you


Friday Song is our song recommendation column.