Chinese are sending literally billions of Chinese New Year greeting text messages this year as a way to 拜年, meaning pay New Year’s respects to one another. They’re often in the form of cute little poems and word-plays. Last year was tiger-themed, of course (I pity the fú!), and this year it’s rabbits. Here’s one from one of my students:
快乐“兔”you，幸福“兔”you，健康“兔”you，平安“兔”you，Lǐ Yǎnán 恭祝您及家人健康幸福，兔年大吉，万事如意，合家欢乐！
Happy “rabbit”* you, blessing “rabbit” you, health “rabbit” you, peace “rabbit” you, Li Yanan wishes you and family health and happiness, an extremely auspicious rabbit year, that all matters go according to your desires, a joyous household!
*Rabbit (兔) in Chinese is pronounced “tù”, which sounds like “to” in English, so the message actually says “health to you”, etc.
Here’s another one that I can’t translate (don’t be too shy to help me out in the comments!). It arranges some idioms sequentially 1 through 10; the first character of each expression is a number:
Lù Yán 给您及您的家人拜年！祝愿大家2011年一帆风顺，二龙腾飞，三羊开泰，四季平安，五福临门，六六大顺，七星高照，八方来财，九九同心，十全十美。新年快乐！ Happy New Year!
Lu Yan gives you and your family a New Year’s greeting! Wish everyone in 2011 favourable winds, rapid advancement, the auspiciousness of three sheep*, four seasons of peace, the Five Blessings arrive at your door, sixty-six** great smoothnesses, the Seven Stars’ brilliance, riches from all Eight directions, ninety-nine*** cooperativeness, complete and beautiful.
* I thought that there must be a word play here, but I asked two local friends and all they can guess is that it refers to the blessing one would receive in ancient times for sacrificing sheep.
** Six (六) sounds like the first part part of the word for smoothly/without a hitch (顺利).
*** Nine (九) sounds the same as 久 (a long duration of time), and nine-nine (九九) is often used to symbolize “forever” because 久久 means a very long time. One Chinese friend of ours proposed to his girlfriend with 99 roses, for example.
If I get any more interesting ones, I’ll add them here. You can see last year’s Dr. Seuss-esque tiger year text here.