Chinese New Year is the perfect time to teach your children about Chinese culture by celebrating in simple, creative ways
No need to run to the store just to have a little Chinese New Year fun. On Chinese New Year (also called Lunar New Year) you can play the multicultural way with things you probably have at home. Why spend money when you don’t have to?
- SWEEP the bad luck out the door. Chinese people clean their houses before the New Year to banish bad luck.
- DECORATE with animals cut from red paper. Papercuts are a traditional Chinese art and a popular decoration.
- VISIT your ancestors by finding a picture of a family member and saying something nice about them.
- WEAR red – it’s a good-luck color in China.
- EAT oranges or tangerines – for good fortune.
- DRINK tea. It was discovered in China.
- SAY Gong Si Fa Cai which means Happy New Year in Mandarin.
- DANCE the lion dance. Draw a colorful lion head on a paper grocery bag. One person puts the head on. The other person throws a blanket (preferably red) over their back and becomes the tail. A third person plays a drum beat. Then dance, dance dance!
- PLAY Rock, Paper, Scissors which also started in China. In one version two children sit on the bottom step of a staircase. The child who wins a round moves up one step. Repeat until one child reaches the top step.
- MAKE a red envelope. At Chinese New Year, people give children red envelopes with money inside for buying treats. Go ahead and put a dime in it. You haven’t spent a penny yet!
What are your ideas for celebrating Chinese New Year with your family and friends?
For a delightful look at Chinese New Year in the 1700s and 1800s, take a look at this illustration at the Minneapolis Insitute of Art.
Laura Barta is the author of My China Travel Journal, a storybook about life in China, and the Founder of Whole Wide World Toys, which develops toys that teach children about life in other countries and cultures.