Chinese New Year
Celebrating Chinese New Year!
These Chinese New Year celebration ideas are sure to be a hit with your girls.
Chinese New Year is also an important holiday celebrated in several other Asian countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. Of course the holiday is celebrated in many communities around the world. The celebration is a cultural one and, for Buddhists, Confucians and Taoists, it is also a religious celebration.
The duration of the celebration and the traditions do vary from country to country. The Chinese name (chunjie) actually translates to Spring Festival. It is also referred to as Lunar New Year. In China the Spring Festival celebration lasts about 15 days and ends with Lantern Festival. In Malaysia there is a custom of open house when family, friends and even strangers are welcome to enjoy large dinners together.
In North and South Korea the Lunar New Year is called Seollal and while it is influenced by China, it is unique.
Whether you are celebrating the Lunar New Year or learning about an Asian country for Thinking Day* or an international celebration, there are many things you’ll want to learn about the history and traditions in each country. We’ve shared a few ideas to get you started as well as crafts and free printables to make things fun!
‘Chinese New Year’
Of course you’ll want to learn about the 12 zodiac animals. Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
Some of the festivities are to honor ancestors. There are also ceremonies to welcome the new year. Many traditions are to bring good luck, good fortune, wealth, prosperity and happiness.
During the Spring Festival in there are dragon and lion dances for good luck. Dragons are a symbol of wisdom, power and wealth. Lions are a symbol of power, wisdom, and superiority.
There are many stories and legends for the Lunar New Year in China that can be shared with the scouts to explain the traditions.
You’ll want to learn about the monster Nian to find out why families eat dinner in their homes with red decorations and red clothing as well as why fireworks are a big part of the celebration.
The story of the Goddess Nuwa explains why dumplings are a part of the meal.
Children traditionally receive money in red envelopes. This is a tradition because of a story about an evil spirit names Sui.
Learn about the Stove God and malt candy gourds.
The legend of the Lantern Festival involves a swan and how lanterns and fireworks were to fool a deity that wanted to burn the world.
Lunar New Year in Korea
In Korea, the Lunar New Year is called Seollal. While it has some Chinese influence it is unique and not to be confused with Chinese New Year. Lunar New Year was no longer celebrated in Korea starting in 1953 but was revived in North Korea in 1967 and in South Korea in 1989. The holiday lasts 3 days. China and Korea don’t always celebrate the Lunar New Year on the same day. Like the Chinese, the Koreans also honor their ancestors during this holiday.
Korean traditions do not include dancing dragons or lions but they do include gift giving. It’s customary to give gift sets of food. Children receive money in colorful pouches but they need to show respect first by bowing. In Korea the festivities include lots of eating with traditional foods and drink like tteokguk, jeon, yakbap and shikye. After the meals it’s time to play games such as yut nori or fly kites.
The Korean zodiac for the lunar year is very similar to the Chinese zodiac for the lunar new year. Lanterns and fireworks are also a part of the Korean Lunar New Year.
You can learn more about the culture in South Korea on our page South Korea | Ideas for Thinking Day*
Fun Fact: The festival date changes each year.
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