1. 爸爸父亲节快乐 (Dad, happy Father’s Day)
On that special Sunday, you’ll want to say: 爸爸父亲节快乐! (bà bà fù qīn jié kuài lè – Happy Father’s Day)!
爸爸 (bà bà) means “dad” and 父亲 (fù qīn) is father. 节 (jié) refers to any kind of special holiday, and 快乐 (kuài lè) is happy.
2. 爸爸我爱你 (Dad, I love you)
You can say to your dad, 爸爸我爱你 (bà bà wǒ ài nǐ – I love you, dad). Though interestingly, it’s not common to verbalize feelings in Chinese culture. Moreover, it’s actually quite rare to directly say “I love you” to someone (but acceptable among young dating couples).
Kids might say “I love you” to their parents, but older or adult children may not. In fact, “I love you” is so awkward for Chinese people to say, that whenever people do say “I love you,” they often say it in English!
3. 爸你辛苦啦 (Dad, you’ve worked hard)
This is like the Chinese equivalent of “I love you.”
Instead of talking about feelings, Chinese are more likely to recognize others’ hard work and sacrifice. They thank or show love to people by pointing out perseverance and effort.
So saying 爸你辛苦啦 (bà nǐ xīn kǔ la) is very thoughtful. It will make a Chinese dad feel that you appreciate and value his effort and sacrifice. It means that you honor and recognize him.
4. 爸谢谢 (Dad, thank you)
Although Chinese tend to honor each other indirectly instead of verbalizing sentiment, it’s perfectly acceptable to say “thank you” 爸谢谢 (bà xiè xiè).
An adult child may say, “Thank you for raising me” 谢谢你把我养大 (xiè xiè nǐ bǎ wǒ yǎng dà). This is sometimes said at wedding speeches by the new couple to their parents. It’s an example of pointing out another’s greatest sacrifice as a way of honoring them.
You can also say, “Thank you for all that you’ve done for me” 谢谢你为我付出的一切 (xiè xiè nǐ wèi wǒ fù chū de yī qiè). This is actually quite sentimental and tough for some Chinese to say, but on special occasions they might open up and say this.
4 Useful Chinese Phrases to Show Love on Father’s Day
So how do Chinese usually show love, if not with sentimental phrases? When it comes to Chinese parents, what they usually look for in children is respect and care, which is part of filial piety. So to care for your parents’ needs and to obey them is perhaps the most “Chinese” way to love your parents.
Outside of this, Chinese are best at showing love through two things: food and money! So here are four phrases Chinese might use to show love on Father’s Day:
1. 爸我请你吃饭 (Dad, let me take you out for a meal)
爸我请你吃饭 (bà wǒ qǐng nǐ chī fàn – Hey dad, let’s go out for a meal—it’s on me!)
This is probably the most popular Father’s Day gift in China: having a special meal.
In China, food represents gathering, unity, connection, care and love.
Chinese culture is definitely a food-centric culture. In fact, a common way of saying “How are you?” is to say “Have you eaten yet?”
As Chinese people commonly give gifts of food or money, other popular Chinese Father’s Day gifts would be expensive wines, expensive teas, expensive cigarettes or cigars, or brand name items.
2. 爸我敬你一杯 (Dad, here’s a toast to you)
What do you do when you’re eating with your dad on Father’s Day? You toast him! 爸我敬你一杯 (bà wǒ jìng nǐ yī bēi).
Toasting is another common way to honor or thank someone, especially someone older or of higher rank than you.
During the toast, that’s your opportunity to say nice things, usually well wishes such as “I wish you great health” 祝你生体健康 (zhù nǐ shēng tǐ jiàn kāng) and “I wish you a long life” 祝你长命百岁 (zhù nǐ cháng mìng bǎi suì), which literally means, “I wish you live to a hundred years.” These are both common Chinese words of blessings, and they reflect things that Chinese value—health and longevity.
3. 爸你好棒啊！(Dad, you’re awesome!)
This phrase is non-traditional and more slangy. But in today’s culture, people often say 好棒! (hǎo bàng) which means “awesome!” So you can say 爸你好棒啊! (bà nǐ hǎo bàng a) or “Dad, you’re awesome!”
4. 爸我给你按摩 (Dad, I can give you a shoulder massage)
Another very “Chinese” thing to do for your elders is to gently thump their shoulders with your fists in a kind of massage or 按摩 (àn mó). Grandparents especially love this.
Generally, you don’t need to say “I’ll give you a massage” (remember, Chinese tend not to be verbally sentimental). When your dad or grandfather is sitting in a chair, you can come up and gently hammer their shoulders, back or knees.
You could simply say,”Here, let me help you” 来我帮你 (lái wǒ bāng nǐ), or say the favorite phrase mentioned above, 爸你辛苦啦! (bà nǐ xīn kǔ la) “My goodness, Dad, you’ve worked hard!”
Now you have a handful of awesome Chinese phrases to appreciate and honor fathers on Father’s Day! With all these meaningful words, plus your active display of love and care, any father would be deeply touched.