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?

8 Answers 8


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".

  • 2
    Yes, and although 年年有今日,歲歲有今朝 is a good phrase, remember: don't use it in wedding.
    – Dante WWWW
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 5:57
  • haha that's right! LOL
    – Laguna
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 14:07
  • @coolcfan, why not in a wedding?? it's a good day too
    – azerafati
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 6:00
  • 1
    @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?
    – Dante WWWW
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 6:41

it means

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


Many happy returns for the day

is the idiom-to-idiom translation with similar meaning and used in the same situation.


Also, 年 and 岁 both mean "year" here. 年年 and 岁岁 mean "every year".

日 and 朝 both mean "day" here. 今日 and 今朝 mean "today".

It's some kind of duality.


Em~ i think it's okay to use it whenever you are happy, and wish that you and your friends can enjoy a party, dinner or some else together next time. Although now it may particularly be used in birthday card, it is fine to used it in other places. (BTW. I think this phrase is used for everyone in every ages.)


Most of times, it just means 'Happy birthday'

  • 1
    It's fine to use for other days (not only berthday), IMO.
    – user4072
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 7:09

It means “happy birthday”, and this sentence always says to elder people.Learn more Chinese expressions about happy birthday, read here: How to Say Happy Birthday in Chinese


May you stay forever young.


May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young

May you stay forever young

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young

May you stay forever young

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung

and may you stay forever young


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