In addition to the start of the year, it also happens to be the Chinese New Year, otherwise known as the Spring Festival. Taking place on a different day each year, 2021’s celebration commences on February 12. This family-centered holiday lasts two weeks and offers a unique way to introduce your students to another culture.
The Chinese New Year celebrates ancestors and family—though the holiday also honors deities. By making the holiday a family event, families of all beliefs can celebrate and learn the beauty of the Chinese culture.
Just before the New Year, families clean their homes and decorate their windows and front doors with red lanterns and other Chinese ornaments. Tigers, dragons, and oranges are among the most common decorations.
Here are some fun ways to celebrate with your students:
- Cook up some traditional Chinese recipes—which can be found on various websites or at a local book store. (*Make sure to keep in mind allergies and/or dietary accommodations)
- Create a beautiful DIY Chinese lantern—check out Pinterest for a variety of patterns.
- For a fun math game, hand out red envelopes containing fake money or an amount of marbles, pencils, or colorful cut-outs. The Chinese avoid amounts of 4 as it is considered unlucky—try multiples of 8 instead, as it is considered a symbol of success and prosperity.
- Bring in some citrus: Oranges or tangerines are thought to represent wealth and luck and are used as gifts during the Chinese New Year.
- Borrow books from the library on China—you can teach of the culture, people, and history.
- Make masks from templates found online—popular masks are of pandas, tigers, dragons, and ladybugs.
- Hand out fortune cookies as treats.
- Introduce your children to the Chinese zodiac and align each student’s birth year with the proper animal sign.
Remember that the Chinese New Year is a time of celebration and togetherness. Happy Chinese New Year, the Year of the Ox!