What Is Chinese New Year?
How to Celebrate Chinese New Year at Home
By Laura Young
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Here are a few ways you family can celebrate Chinese New Year in your very own home or town.
Make Chinese New Year crafts
Teach kids about Chinese heritage while they are having fun! Try making lovely crafts such as Chinese orange trays, red envelopes or plum blossoms or any other of the fantastic Chinese New Year artsy activities we have featured on Kaboose.
Read Chinese New Year books
Check out our list of great Chinese New Year books for kids and adults as well as the following list which was hand-selected for us by Sue E. Yee, Senior Children's Librarian of the Chatham Square Branch of the New York Public Library in New York City!
Preschoolers (ages 3-4)
- My First Chinese New Year. Karen Katz. Henry Holt and Company, 2004.
Bright/vibrant collages illustrate this simple introduction to Chinese New Year.
- This Next New Year. Janet S. Wong. Illustrated by YangSook Choi. Frances Foster, 2000.
A young boy describes how his Chinese-Korean family prepares for and celebrates the Lunar New Year.
Grade Schoolers (Ages 5-7 = K-2nd Grade)
- Celebrating Chinese New Year. Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith. Photographs by Lawrence Migdale. Holiday House, 1998.
Follow 10-year-old Ryan as he and his family prepare for Chinese New Year in San Francisco.
- Chinese New Year Crafts. Karen E. Bledsoe. Enslow PubPublishers, 2005.
Ten simple crafts for Chinese New Year.
- Happy New Year: Kung-his fa-ts’ai. Demi. Crown, 1997.
Reissued as: Happy, Happy Chinese New Year. Crown, 2003.
Basic information about the customs of Chinese New Year, profusely illustrated with Demi’s detailed drawings.The original Happy New Year (1997) is larger in format and contains a little more information.
- Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year. Kate Waters & Madeline Sklovenz-Low. Photographs by Martha Cooper. Scholastic, 1990.
This is the first time 6 year old Ernie will be performing the lion dance in public. Follow him and his family in NYC’s Chinatown as they prepare for and celebrate Chinese New Year.
- The Rooster’s Antlers: A Story of the Chinese Zodiac. Eric A Kimmel. Illustrated by YongSheng Xuan. Holiday House, 1999.
Dragon and Centipede trick Rooster into giving up his beautiful golden horns. Also explains how and why the zodiac animals were chosen. The colorful illustrations are reminiscent of traditional Chinese papercuts.
- Sam and the Lucky Money. Karen Chinn. Illustrated by Cornelius van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. Lee & Low Books, 1995
Set in a modern day Chinatown, Sam must decide how to spend his Chinese New Year “leisee” money. He is disappointed when he realizes that he does not have enough to buy the toy that he wants. In the end, he decides to give his money to a homeless man.
- Story of the Chinese Zodiac. Retold by Monica Chang. Illustrated by Arthur Lee. English Translation by Rick Charette. Yuan-Liou, 1994
Cut paper 3-dimensional collage retelling the animals’ race, rat’s treachery and explains why cat is not one of the zodiac animals.
Tweens (Ages 8-12 = 3rd-6th Grade)
- Cat and Rat: The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac. Ed Young. H. Holt, 1995.
Tells of the animals' race, Rat’s betrayal and why Cat is not one of the zodiac animals. The illustrations are charcoal and pastels on a dark background, making this more appropriate for the older crowd.
- The Chinese Book of Animal Powers. Al Chung-liang Huang. HarperCollins, 1999.
Large calligraphy-like illustrations depict each of the zodiac animals and explain their strengths and weaknesses.
- Exploring Chinatown: A Children’s Guide to Chinese Culture. Carol Stepanchuk. Illustrated by Leland Wong. Pacific View Press, 2002.
By taking a tour of a fictitious generic Chinatown, Chinese food, traditional medicine, language and writing, festivals, religion and art are explored. Includes recipes and suggestions for activities.
- Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities and Recipes. Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz & The Children’s Museum of Boston. Gulliver Bks/Harcourt Inc, 2002.
Presents background information, related stories and activities for five Chinese holidays: Chinese New Year, the Lantern Festival, Qing Ming, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-autumn Moon Festival.
Check out a local Chinese New Year parade
Chinese New Year parades are grand celebrations where people come out to happily carouse with one another.
In addition to floats, fireworks, performances, and marching bands, parades often feature people performing "dragon" or "lion dances"--a ritual in which a group of dancers gets under an elaborately decorated dragon or lion costume with a long silky train, and visits the homes and businesses to scare away bad luck. It is common practice for the home or business owners to "feed" red envelopes to the animal to promote good luck for the coming year, says Daria Ng, Assistant Curator of Education for MOCA.
American cities with large Chinese populations such as San Francisco, CA and New York City, NY hold annual Chinese New Year parades and events. (Visit ChineseParade.com for more information about the San Francisco parade and ExploreChinatown.com for more info about the NYC event.) Check out your local community calendar to find events in your area.