Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is one of the largest and most significant celebrations in China. Lasting 15 days, it is filled with traditions, colorful parades, lion dances, and most importantly, time spent with family.
There are a ton of activities you can do with your children to help them learn about this holiday celebrated throughout many countries in Asia and around the world.
Start by checking out books at your local library. I found Food and Festivals of China by Yan Liao super helpful. It was descriptive and thorough, making it a great choice for older children (and as a reference for me too). For younger kids, look for picture books that celebrate Chinese and Chinese American culture. Here is a great list by author Grace Lin to get you started. There are even a few YA books on the list for older kids that look excellent.
Like I mentioned, there many hands-on activities for kids to learn more about Chinese New Year. Let’s take a look at three of them now—Hong Bao, Lantern Riddles and Long Noodles.
Hongbao are red envelopes filled with money or chocolate coins often given to children by their elders. The color red is considered lucky.
They’re easy to make. We made ours out of red card stock. Construction paper would work just as well. To make: cut out a rectangular piece of paper and snip the top to create a triangle. Glue the sides together. Then, insert money or chocolate coins.
The Lantern Festival officially ends Spring Festival celebrations. Lanterns are hung in homes and all along public spaces. The displays of lanterns are impressive. And hanging from each one is a riddle. There are competitions to see who can solve all the riddles first.
Click here to see how the kids can make their very own lanterns. And don’t forget to add the riddles. Here are some of our favorites:
What room has no doors or windows?
What’s the difference between here and there?
The letter t.
What can you catch but not throw?
Long noodles represent long life and are considered an auspicious food during the Spring Festival. So whatever you do, don’t cut them. Total faux pas. Check out this recipe for Chinese Noodles with Greens and have the kids help make a batch. We made it the other night and it was delicious. After your meal, serve tangerines and oranges for dessert. They represent good luck.
Honestly, you could spend weeks on projects inspired by Chinese New Year. We just scratched the surface here. For instance, there’s a day where only sweet words can be spoken (which would be a good challenge), sweeping the house to get it ready for good fortune (hey kids, it’s spring cleaning time!), Dragon puppets, Lion dances, the zodiac…the list goes on and on.
So whether you only have time for one activity or the kids get so excited, they want to do more, enjoy yourselves. After all, it’s a celebration of family.