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Author: Qian Kan

Year of the Tiger: Chinese New Year

Updated Wednesday, 26 January 2022

虎年快乐!Hǔ nián kuàilè! Happy Year of the Tiger. Why not learn some Chinese New Year’s greetings to celebrate Chinese New Year?

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2022 is the Year of the Tiger. It starts from 1 February and lasts until  22 January 2023. Those born in the Year of the Tiger are believed to be brave, competitive, unpredictable and confident. Tigers’ beautiful colours and patterns are nature’s amazing work. Many Chinese children wear tiger-headed embroidered shoes for good luck. Each Chinese Lunar year is associated with an animal sign according to a 12-year-cycle. Babies born between 1 February 2022 and 22 January 2023 will be given the animal sign ‘Tiger’. Recent and upcoming years of the Tiger are 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010 and 2022.

As the tiger is considered to be the king of animals, the Chinese family name Wáng is often put alongside a tiger image in traditional Chinese art and crafts. 

Traditional Chinese tiger shoes for young children

Learn Common Chinese New Year’s greetings

The most frequently used new year's greetings are:

新年快乐 (xīn nián kuài lè

 新年好 (xīn nián hǎo)

恭喜发财 (gōng xǐ fā cái

The first two expressions mean 'Happy New Year' while the last one means ‘wishing you a Prosperous New Year' and it is mostly used in Cantonese speaking communities and in business circles.

If you want to be more specific and say ‘Happy Year of the Tiger’, you need to say:

虎年快乐!Hǔ nián kuàilè

Click here to see how the character for tiger () is written (a total of 8 strokes and notice the direction in which each stroke is made). 

Learn a few common Chinese proverbs that contain the word ‘tiger’


chū shēng niúdú bú pà hǔ             Newborn calves are not afraid of tigers


rú hǔ tiān yì  (lit. like tiger added wings) even more powerful and stronger


hǔ tóuhǔ nǎo (lit. tiger head and tiger brain) often used to describe young boys being healthy and energetic


hǔ tóu shé wěi  (lit. tiger head snake tail)  great start but bad finish; anti-climax


mǎ ma hū hū lit. horse horse tiger tiger

This expression can be used to describe a careless person; and also it can mean ‘just so-so’ as a response to a question asking how something went or about your opinion of something.

Tigers have different connotations in different cultures. For example, they are represented in many English poems and novels. Dr Frank Pearson (ex-OU student in Geoscience) presents his interpretation of William Blake's 'The Tyger' as a contradictory force, both creative and destructive, within the context of the French Revolution and our current situation. He explores Blake's ideas of art, poetry and perception traced in this poem and his wider writing and how they are still relevant. What does tiger represent in your culture? 

The Chinese New Year festival season will last until 15 February which is known as the Lantern Festival. 

Lanterns for Chinese New Year

Celebrate the new year by dipping into some of our fantastic resources on China and Chinese. In addition to those free resources, you may also wish to have look at our newly launched short courses in Chinese language and business culture. 


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