The Lunar New Year is not only the most important holiday in China, but widely celebrated across the world with its rich history, traditions and focus on family. Even if you don’t personally celebrate this holiday, you may be wondering how to teach children about the Spring Festival. Here are some answers to popular questions inquisitive learners will want to know.
What is Chinese New Year and how is it celebrated?
Chinese New Year (also called the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival in Mandarin) lands on a different day every year and is represented by one of 12 different animals of the zodiac calendar. This year, Chinese New Year takes place on February 1, 2022, and will be the year of the tiger!
How long does the holiday last?
While celebrations last over 2 weeks, the first week is a national public holiday in China, and a time to celebrate and gather with family.
Why does it take place on different days each year?
The traditional Chinese calendar is lunisolar. That means it’s based on the cycle of the moon, not just Earth’s course around the sun! In the Chinese calendar, a month is only 28 days long.
Just as we have a “leap day” every 4 years to keep our calendars in sync, the Chinese calendar adds an extra “leap month” every few years to keep the calendar in sync with the sun and seasons.
Are there special clothes to wear on New Year’s Day?
Whether family members opt to wear traditional clothes or not, the key elements are brand new clothes and the colour red. This also includes lucky red underwear!
Why is red such a significant colour throughout the holiday?
The colour red is the celebratory colour that is seen in decor, clothing as well as the envelopes for gifts during the holiday. It is associated with fire and energy, symbolizing vitality, good fortune and luck.
What are popular rituals and customs to celebrate Chinese New Year?
Housecleaning and decorating - Traditionally, Chinese New Year begins with housecleaning! This is to get rid of bad luck – literally cleaning it away. Then comes decorating! Red lanterns and red banners are part of traditional Chinese New Year’s decorations.
Giving gifts - Just like many western holidays, gifts are exchanged! Fruit, tea and candy are popular gifts. A special custom is to give small red envelopes with money inside. They’re typically given to children.
Feasting with family - Lunar New Year is a time that Chinese families visit together. They will get together for a big “reunion dinner” and enjoy lots of food and time with one another. The Chinese also honor their dead by visiting ancestors’ graves the day before the New Year and setting a place for them at the dinner table on New Year’s Eve.
Eating lucky foods – The 7 lucky foods to eat include fish, dumplings, spring rolls, sweet rice balls, fruits that bring good fortune (oranges and tangerines), glutinous rice cakes and longevity noodles.
Staying up late and playing games – It is tradition to stay up until after midnight after the reunion dinner and play games. Mah Jong and strategy games are quite popular.
Watching fireworks – Since everyone is staying up late, firecrackers are set off at the stroke of midnight to frighten away evil spirits and celebrate the coming of the new year. If you visit some popular areas during Chinese New Year, you may see lion and dragon dances.
Happy Lunar New Year to our readers. We hope the coming year is prosperous for everyone!
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