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 fun. On Chinese New Year (also called Lunar New Year) you can play the multicultural way with things you probably have at home.
- SWEEP the bad luck out the door. Chinese people clean their houses before the New Year to banish bad luck.
- DECORATE with animals cut out of 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.