February 1 marks the beginning of the Year of the Tiger. It is the Lunar New Year, sometimes referred to as Chinese New Year, and it can be lots of fun to celebrate!
Let’s face it, with dragons and fireworks as two staples, what kid wouldn’t enjoy celebrating the new year? Add tigers and food, and you’ve got a sure winner. But learning about other cultures, the holiday, and the stories behind it, can be lots of fun, too.
A LITTLE HISTORY
Many libraries will have books about Chinese New Year (The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang is my favorite!), and they make it easy for kids to learn the basics about the holiday. Some will be stories that take place during Chinese New Year, and some will be purely factual. Whichever your family prefers, choose one with lots of bright, bold pictures. The visual images from Chinese New Year shouldn’t be missed!
If you can’t make it to the library, or books aren’t your preferred way to learn, check out ChineseNewYear.net, a resource to learn about all things related to the holiday. Did you know celebrations can last up to 16 days? And that people born each year are believed to share character traits with that year’s animal? From the zodiac to the food, you’ll learn tons of interesting details.
China is not the only country that celebrates Lunar New Year, however, so be sure to learn about other countries’ celebrations, as well. Though geared toward businesspeople, GTE Localize has a quick overview of other countries’ celebrations.
Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, is a really big deal. When it kicks off, there are literally hours of broadcasts encompassing dancing, performances, and fireworks, and they go all out. Check out YouTube and search for “spring festival 2021” to get a peek of the celebrations from last year. Then head back next week to check out the new videos this year as part of your own family’s celebrations!
In addition to sharing the video performances, celebrate with decorations, activities, and food to embrace the festive atmosphere. You can also learn how to write and say some words and phrases in Chinese. Here are a few sites to get you started:
- Top 10 Mandarin words to learn for Chinese New Year
- Chinese New Year greetings
- Essential Chinese New Year Traditions and 25 Fun Chinese New Year Greetings
Certain accents are typical this time of year, as part of the New Year celebration. These include lanterns and decorative signs with certain words or phrases.
Lanterns come in different styles. You can make your own decorative lanterns using simple supplies you likely have at home, such as construction paper, glue, and scissors. Here are a few different options for you to create:
- Classic style with puckered sides
- Traditional round shape
- Easy color and cut with optional animal designs
To make decorative signs, the first step is to learn how to write traditional Chinese characters! The most common word used is “fu” (good fortune), but you can also include wisdom, courage, peace, and more. GoodLuckSymbols.com can help with some appropriate characters. Once you’ve decided what you want your signs to say, draw or paint them onto a paper or board you can hang up. Red is considered a lucky color, and it is often used in these signs. You can also choose to decorate your sign with gold accents, flowers, etc.
Anything associated with dragons and, this year, tigers is fair game when it comes to holiday projects! Here are some of my favorite related activities:
Here are some websites to explore for other projects and activities:
Food is a big part of Chinese New Year, and a big feast is often enjoyed on New Year’s Eve as families prepare for the arrival of Nian, the monster who was said to arrive that night to terrorize villages. To celebrate, your family can enjoy your own feast. If you would like to incorporate some traditional dishes, here are some ideas:
- Authentic Chinese Spring Rolls
- Veggie Spring Rolls
- Cabbage Spring Rolls
- Asian Pork Soup Dumplings
- Pot Stickers
- Asian Noodles with Broccoli
- Frugal Noodles
For more inspiration and information about traditional New Year food, check out the food section of ChineseNewYear.net.
As a whole, Lunar New Year is a vibrant, exciting celebration that both kids and adults can enjoy. How will your family celebrate?