Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Celebrating the Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, which is considered to be one of the most important of the tradtional Chinese holidays, is a celebration at the beginning of a new year according to the lunar calendar. This holiday is celebrated with family gatherings, gift giving, the eating of symbolic foods, and display of festive decorations, all of which are focused on bringing good luck for the new year and celebrating the coming of Spring. Year 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit and begins on February 3rd by the Chinese calendar. Here are some fun facts and kid-friendly crafts and activities to help you celebrate the Chinese New Year holiday with your family. Follow the provided links for details and instructions about each craft and activity.

The lantern is one of the most prominent symbols of the Chinese New Year. In fact, there is an entire festival (the Chinese lantern festival) which is celebrated fifteen days into the New Year on the sighting of the first full moon. The idea behind the lanterns is to bring about a cheerful environment as the full moon shines bright in the sky and masses of Chinese people gather at the festival holding up colorful lanterns and creating a completely lit up environment. Help your little ones make these colorful Paper Lanterns to decorate your home for the Chinese New Year.

The dragon is another popular symbol for Chinese New Year. It is a symbol of strength, goodness, and good luck. During New Years, one of the main events is a large parade through the city streets. As part of this parade, people dress up in dragon costumes and dance down the streets. You can celebrate the Chinese New Year with your children by creating this mini version Festive Ribbon Dragon from Family Fun.

One tradition families enjoy during the 15-day celebration of Chinese New Year is writing and displaying chun lian, simple expressions of wishes for good fortune in the coming year. Create your own well-wishes for family and friends with these colorful, fortune-filled paper cookies.

Create this costume to dress-up like a dragon and lead a traditional Chinese game, Chase the Dragon's Tail. I have played this with a group of kids before and they all LOVED it.

During the Chinese New Year, red packets, called hong bao in Chinese, are traditionally given as a gift to children and unmarried friends and usually contain a small monetary gift. You can introduce this tradition in your own home by using this envelope template from Martha Stewart, which is pre-printed with the Chinese character for Good Luck.

Present your family and friends with another traditional Chinese New Year's gift: tangerines and oranges. This gift symbolizes wealth, good luck, and abundant happiness. Tangerines that still bear leaves signify that the relationship between you and the giver is secure. Package your tangerines and oranges on a tray or in a bag and include a hopeful message for the new year.

Xīn Nián Kuài Lè.
Happy New Year!

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