The Lunar New Year is upon us! This special holiday celebration marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendars traditional to many east Asian countries including China, Tibet, South Korea, and Vietnam. Whether it’s called Chinese New Year, Losar, Seollal, or Tết, Lunar New Year is celebrated by more than 1.5 billion people across the globe.
In China, the festival lasts 15 days, starting with a large feast on the night of their New Year’s Eve (this year it’s tonight, Feb. 11) and ending with the Spring Lantern Festival (Feb. 26). Vietnam’s Tết Nguyên Đán is celebrated for a week, and South Korea’s Seollal celebration is three days long. However long your culture chooses to celebrate, Lunar New Year is a holiday filled with family-oriented traditions that honor good fortune and new beginnings. Here are some ideas for how your family can celebrate.
1. Don some new red duds
Red is the color of luck and of joy. A new outfit symbolizes new beginnings and if it’s red those beginnings are sure to be filled with good fortune. Red clothes are said to scare away evil spirits and invite good fortune for the year to come, so sport some scarlet from head to toe!
2. Deck the halls with red and gold
The color of good luck and happiness shouldn’t be kept to the clothes alone. Deck the halls in crimson as well—and combine it with gold while you’re at it. While red is for luck and joy, gold—unsurprisingly—symbolizes wealth and prosperity. When you combine the two colors it’s a welcome mat for good fortune and prosperity in the new year. This garland and balloon combo makes for a shimmering new year that’s sure to ring in an auspicious start to the new year.
3. Learn an ancient art form
A fun craft to get that hallway decor going is the Chinese art Jianzhi. Jianzhi is a highly ornate paper cutting art that takes decades of practice, but—at its heart—it’s similar to cutting out paper snowflakes. All you need are a sharp pair of scissors and some red paper to make these festive red Chinese New Year decorations. Like snowflakes, no paper cutouts are alike, so kids can make their own special statement in what they create.
4. Have a dim sum dinner
This lucky dinner is filled with dishes that hold symbolic meanings for an auspicious start to the lunar year. Shrimp dumplings and pork dumplings represent prosperity while the “longevity noodles” are meant to honor and encourage a long and happy life. This dinner comes to you via Goldbelly from the renowned Jing Fong in New York’s Chinatown and has everything a family of three to four needs for a start of a prosperous year.
5. Fill some little red envelopes
During that lucky dinner, be sure to hand out traditional red envelopes or “hongbao” in Mandarin and “lai see” in Cantonese. These small red and gold packets are specially for children and contain money as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Children are expected to spend the money within the year, so this sum shouldn’t go into their savings account but should go towards something that brings them joy. Avoid giving coins and try to give money in even amounts.
6. Make your own dragon dance
If you’re not able to get out and see the annual dragon dance at a Chinatown near you, bring the festival home. Dragons symbolize strength, ferocity, and dignity and are said to drive away evil spirits. Pull out the toy drums and cymbals and make your own dragon marionette, like this one from the Made With Happy blog.
7. Create some fireworks
Fireworks are a huge part of welcoming in the new lunar new year. While you can’t light fireworks off at home, you can certainly make this fun firework craft by Kid’s Craft Room.
8. Have a mini lantern festival
The Lunar New Year celebration ends this year on Feb. 26 with the spring Lantern Festival. You may not be able to attend one at your local Chinatown, but you can definitely celebrate at home with a kid-friendly craft, or by buying these festive ones to hang with designs that celebrate spring.
10. Take a trip to China (without leaving home)
Little Global Citizens ranks as one of our editors’ favorite subscription boxes, and there’s good reason why. It’s a fully immersive experience in global cultures. We can’t take a trip to the far east, but we can teach our kids about the world and this month their box focuses on China. It comes with authentic guides, informative books, inspired crafts, and a whole lot of fun screen-free activities to get kids involved, informed, and learning.
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