What Is Chinese New Year?
More Traditions and Symbols
By Laura Young
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Here are some more traditions associated with Chinese New Year.
Give good luck gifts
It is a traditional practice for adults to give children little red envelopes--hong bao in Mandarin or lai-see in Cantonese--filled with money in order to symbolize wealth and prosperity for the coming year. It is also common for elders to bestow red packets to unmarried members of the family. It is a sign of respect to bow three times in order to accept the hong bao. Envelopes are not to be opened until the recipient has left the home of the giver.
The New Year's festivities come to an end on the fifteenth day of the new year, which is celebrated by the Lantern Festival. According to the book Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats by Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz, and the Children's Museum, Boston, the Lantern Festival honors the first full moon of the year and represents the coming of springtime.
Families will light lanterns, which symbolize the brightness of spring, and hang them on walls around the house, or on poles to be carried in lantern parades. You can create kid-friendly paper lantern crafts with your children in order to honor this tradition.
Honor the animal
Every year is associated with one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, with each animal being represented once every 12 years. These animals are often represented in decorations during the holiday. Figure out which is your Chinese zodiac animal and discover what famous people also share your sign by reading our article "Chinese Astrology: Animals of the Chinese Zodiac."
Make cute crafts of this year's Zodiac animal, the rat. Check out our Clay Pot Rat craft created by our craft expert, Amanda Formaro.
Some people believe that those born during the year of a particular animal will end up with the character traits of that animal. For example, if you were born during the year of the rat, you will grow up to be imaginative and cunning.