How Chinese Families Celebrate The New Year & Classroom Resources
How The Chinese Celebrate The New Year (With Student Resources Below)
China, the world’s most populous country and its 1.5 billion people are all set to welcome the New Year with lunar fun-firecrackers, lanterns, parades, and everything all-red. Also called the ‘Spring Festival’ or ‘Chunjie’ in Chinese, it is the most extended holiday in China lasting for 15 days. It is also the time to feast and renew family bonds accompanied by both traditional and some modern customs and rituals.
Ancient Chinese celebrated the ‘Spring Festival’ to mark the end of the coldest wintry days and the beginning of spring. The legend also says, the tradition of lighting fireworks and beating drums is to reminisce and celebrate the death of Nian.
Unlike the Western New Year, the ‘Spring Festival’ doesn’t have a set date because the country forms the date from the lunar calendar.
Each year, the celebration falls between January 21st and February 20th and has its own corresponding animal from the Chinese Zodiac, a cycle of 12 animals – the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
For example, in 2019, the Chinese New Year falls on 5th February, and this is the Year of the Pig.
Chinese New Year Preparations
Most Chinese families begin the preparations a month or more in advance to celebrate the crazy colors of Spring Festival.
Let’s decode the two weeks of celebration from the New Year’s Eve to the Lantern Festival.
Some Chinese start their preparation with Laba Festival or Rice Porridge Festival which falls on the 8th day of the 12th lunar month. Traditionally, it is considered as an occasion to give sacrifices to the ancestors.
On the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month (January 28th) the population dedicates this day to sweeping the bad luck away or ‘huiqi,’-or any inauspicious breaths away-and to appease the Gods. An interesting fact about these 15 days is that no one cuts their hair because it can be considered taboo. The Chinese also make sure that all the shopping is over before the New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Eve
This day is dedicated to decorating the houses and streets with all-red décor items and enjoying reunion dinner with family. Parents and elders usually give lucky money in a red envelope to their children, and kids stay up late to hear the New Year Bell.
New Year’s Day
Chinese New Year’s day is all about being happy, spreading love, positivity and confidence. The Chinese population follow the belief that the first day of the holiday affects the luck of the entire year.
New Year Days 2-7
The second day is for visiting family and friends whereas the third day marks the first house-sweep of the year (as Chinese don’t clean the houses during the first two days to prevent bad luck sweep away). The rest of the days are spent renewing the broken bonds with family, friends, worshipping the God of wealth and mankind.
New Year Days 8 – 15
Eight is the lucky number for the Chinese population, and people tend to resume their work on the eighth day. The feasts and celebrations continue until the 14th day. Families make tang yuan on this day as well.
New Year Day 15
On day 15, the Lantern Festival and the end of Spring festival celebrations begin.
The Spring Festival is not only celebrated in China but also in the China-towns across the world.
How to Celebrate the New Year with Your Students
Fun Facts About the Holiday:
- It begins with the first full moon after winter solstice.
- It falls somewhere in-between January 21 and February 19.
- It is the most important holiday for the Chinese.
- Like Christmas, it is a family festival.
- Lion and dragon dances are common during the festival.
- Traditional foods include fish, chicken and dumplings.
Happy Chinese New Year Birthday
Did you know that during the Chinese New Year it’s a tradition for everyone to turn a year older even if their birth date isn’t during that time? Have your students partake in this fun tradition by creating Chinese New Year birthday cards. Have students choose one person to make a card for and find out the year the recipient was born.
Then, have students refer to the Chinese chart to determine which animal their recipient is, and their characteristics. Once students have their information they can begin creating their card. On the front of the card they can draw or paste a picture of the animal that represents their addressee. Then, on the inside of the card, students can write a short message describing why the character traits match his/her personality.
Read more at TeachHub.