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On my birthday a friend wished me "祝你年年有今日,歲歲有今朝". I can understand each of the individual words in this phrase, but the overall meaning is somewhat less clear to me (although I have some ideas about what it might mean). Searching around the web reveals many different translations into English, all with different nuances. :)

How would one translate this phrase into English, in such a way as to accurately preserve the meaning of the original idiom? Are there particular contexts in which one would use the expression? Is it used by (or for) people of a particular age group? Lastly, are there any other Chinese expressions that use a similar pattern?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Both "年年有今日" and "歲歲有今朝" have the meaning of "May you have today's glory forever."

Usually it's wished upon people on their birthdays. The contextual meaning is "Although you are getting older as years pass by, I wish that you'll always have today's glory. And let today's good memory always be with you."

It is not used by a particular group. Other similar expressions include "祝你青春永驻", which means "may you have your youth forever".

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Yes, and although 年年有今日,歲歲有今朝 is a good phrase, remember: don't use it in wedding. –  coolcfan Feb 3 '12 at 5:57
    
haha that's right! LOL –  Laguna Feb 3 '12 at 14:07
    
@coolcfan, why not in a wedding?? it's a good day too –  Bludream May 28 at 6:00
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@Bludream cuz' its direct meaning is "having a day like today every year". So although it's used to express your best wishes, it's not very suitable for wedding -- have a wedding day every year? –  coolcfan May 28 at 6:41
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it means

Wish every day like this day and happiness come along to you in the following years.

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