The informant was from a southern province in China called Guangdong, or Canton. He heard the saying from relatives that came from the same region. This tradition is a four-character word that expresses the best wish, which is the hope people will get rich. It has variations such as adding another four characters that meant “give the red pocket,” which involves the tradition of the Chinese New Year.
Every Chinese New Year, people would visit relatives and hang out with families. When my informant’s families greet each other, they say, “hope you get rich” instead of “happy new year.”
translation: hope you get rich
The Chinese New Year is the most important time of the year, and people express their best wishes to their families. The fact that Cantonese greets each other with “hope you get rich” reflects their values about wealth. Canton has long been a place where trading is happening. Many people have a family business or participate in businesses. Thus, “hope you get rich” is an appropriate wish for businessmen, which is why it is prevalent in Canton.