A recent question prompted me to look for expressions related to the Chinese New Year and, among them, I found one that particularly stroke me as interesting:

五福臨門 = according to the poster it means: "five happinesses bestowed on your household"

Source: Chinese New Year phrases, third post by "14k Guy", 7th expression listed.

I suppose that the pronunciation provided is Cantonese, since the site seems to be related to Cantonese.

Anyway, looking up the expression as a whole doesn't give any results in Mandarin, apparently, whereas looking up each character alone, the meaning seems to match... So I wonder, does this expression exist in current Mandarin as well? If not, is there an equivalent?

In both cases, I'd like to know why "five happenesses", is it related to the number meanings in Chinese culture?

  • It exists in both Cantonese and Mandarin. Jun 13, 2012 at 7:36

1 Answer 1


Of course it exists in Mandarin. I didn't know it is a Cantonese expression. Maybe it should be just "Chinese expression".

I cannot answer whether the meaning are the same. I don't know Cantonese. But I think the meaning should be the same in Cantonese and Mandarin.

"五福" comes form 《尚书·洪范》:


which are long life, being rich, being healthy, clement, having a peaceful end (death). It may or may not be related to the number meaning of five, I don't know. Maybe the original author picked five because five is a good number.

And currently, most Chinese cannot list what "五福" are, though "五福临门" is commonly used.

  • Oh, then it's weird I didn't find it... What about that "five"?
    – Alenanno
    Jan 16, 2012 at 10:45
  • @Alenanno, I have to look up what "五福" are.
    – fefe
    Jan 16, 2012 at 11:05
  • I can't list the "five" until I read the source. By the way, it seems the link is blocked. I can't browse it.
    – Huang
    Jan 16, 2012 at 13:55
  • @Huang The link is from wikisource.
    – fefe
    Jan 16, 2012 at 13:57
  • @fefe I really can't browse it. I guess it's blocked by something.Anyway, thanks. I am sure to find and read the source.
    – Huang
    Jan 16, 2012 at 14:03

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