I love incorporating Chinese culture and traditions into our lives and sharing the meaning with my kids. Chinese New Year is February 10th and this year I’m also sharing some of the traditions with my son’s class. I’ll be reading a book about the traditions, talking about the meaning behind the food, and even passing out red envelopes “hong bao”. I want to share with you as well and give you some fun simple ways to celebrate Chinese New Year With Your Kids.
What is Chinese New Year?
It is one of the most important Chinese holidays and celebrated by many other Asian cultures as well. It marks the start of the new year based on the lunar calendar. 2013 is the Year of The Snake which means steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary for you to achieve what you set out to create. The Snake is the sixth sign of the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 Animal Signs. Love these FREE Printables from Nick Jr. of the Chinese Zodiac you can use to find your sign based on your birth year and some coloring pages.
It falls on a different date each year between end of January and end of February, since it is based on a Lunar Calendar. This year it starts February 10. Celebrations go on for 15 days.
What are some of the traditions leading up to the new year?
Cleaning your house to sweep away any bad luck and welcome in the new year, a traditional Chinese feast with family on New Year’s Eve with symbolic foods. Maybe a new outfit, new haircut, new shoes to start fresh.
What is the symbolism behind the food?
Fish symbolizes abundance because the word fish also sounds like “extra”/”yu”, Noodles symbolize longevity because they are long, Dumplings represent prosperity-the half moon shape resembles traditional gold ingots. Fresh fruit symbolize life and new beginnings, oranges a symbol of good luck and fortune.
What is the Red Envelope for?
“Hong Bao” Adults fill red envelopes with money to give to children as a symbol good luck and a blessing for the new year. Some even sleep on them overnight under their pillows for even more good luck.
Simple Ways To Celebrate
1. Learn Chinese-“Gong Xi Fa Tsai” (Mandarin) or “Gong Hay Fat Chow”(Cantonese) is how people greet others for Chinese New Year, but the translation is not just Happy New Year it means “Congratulations and Be Prosperous”!
2. Decorate- Red is the symbol for good luck and fortune. You can put up red decorations or wrap your front door with red paper.
3. Eat- Have your own Chinese feast. While the tradition is to make your own homemade dumplings or “jiao zi” you can also boil or pan fry some store bought ones, have some noodles for long life, or put out fresh fruit, especially mandarin oranges for good luck.
4. Crafts- Make your own “hongbao” red envelopes with your children. Just use some red paper and they can decorate it. Fill it with some dollar bills for fun! Here are some more ideas.