We love learning about other countries’ cultural traditions and celebrations, so this year we decided to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Luckily, the library had lots of cute books on the subject and as always, Pinterest had lots of fun ideas to celebrate the holiday.
These are the books we enjoyed the most:
PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year by Virginia Loh-Hagan
Ben and Emma both enjoyed this book a lot. This is a cute story about how a little girl’s grandmother comes all the way from China to introduce her grandchildren to Chinese New Year traditions. (Did I mention that the grandmother is also really superstitious?) We especially liked the little asides that give you more information as to why they believe certain things are lucky and which things to avoid that bring bad luck.
Lanterns and Firecrackers by Jonny Zucker
This was a nice book if you are looking for a simple explanation as to how to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It was a quick and easy way to show Ben how Chinese families celebrate the holiday.
The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey
This is a definite must read. It tells the story as to how the Chinese determined which animals would get a year named after them by holding a race. Ben and Emma really loved this book, due to the beautiful pictures and the great writing. If your children like fables, they will love this book.
Seven Magic Brothers by Kuang-Tsai Hao
This book was not about the Chinese New Year, but is a beloved Chinese story. It is about seven identical brothers that each have a different magical talent (ex: being fireproof, possessing super hearing, ability to swallow anything, etc). When one of the brothers is condemned to death, each brother steps in to save the next, by using their amazing talents. This was a really fun read!
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosul
This book is also not about the Chinese New Year but is a Chinese fable. We actually own this book because my kids love this story so much! This book tells the story as to why Chinese people choose to name their children short names. (The main character in this book has an absurdly long name that eventually gets him into trouble) Both the writing and the pictures are beautiful throughout this story.
Interesting facts about the Chinese New Year
1. Its important to sweep out the dirt in your house before the New Year starts to “sweep out the bad luck”. **But only throw the dirt out the back door!
2. Clean your windows to allow good fortune to flow in
3. Open your windows and doors at midnight to allow the old year to leave
4. Only serve whole chickens (to keep the family together) and whole fish (to have a good beginning and a good end)
5. Leave noodles unbroken to ensure a long life
6. The first person you meet on New Years and the first words you hear are important for how the year to come will be
7. Wear red clothes to scare away the bad spirits
8. Children should wear new clothes to confuse the evil spirits
9. Avoid the number 4, because it sounds like the Chinese character for death, so it is considered bad luck
10. Throw firecracker snaps on your front door to scare off evil spirits
11. Eat oranges to guarantee happiness and wealth for the year to come
**My kids were highly entertained by these traditions:)
After we learned all about the Chinese New Year, I headed over to Pinterest to find a few cute crafts that we could do together.
Another fun tradition is to give children money in red envelopes to ensure good luck for the coming year, so I made a couple of these cute envelopes to give to my children.
We ate ramen noodles for lunch (unbroken to guarantee a long life) and cutie oranges (to ensure happiness and wealth)
Before we went to bed we snapped a few firecracker poppers on the front doorstep to scare away the evil spirits. We also remembered to put the red envelopes beneath the children’s pillows to ward off evil dreams.
Happy Chinese New Year!