We had made it our annual tradition to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It is a fun, colorful, musical and cultural experience for all parties involved. It is also a great way to break up the post holiday, dull winter routine with some festive excitement. We are lucky to live close to Peabody Essex Museum – a very child friendly and exceptionally well curated museum that hosts the annual Lunar New Year celebrations. But there are celebrations taking place all over the country in community centers, China Town neighborhoods, libraries, restaurants and museums. Just do a quick google search in your area, check facebook and bulletin boards in your local coffee shops/community centers. I wanted to share some of the fun activities that we do before, during and after that involve music and art of course!
- Build It Up! In the week leading up to the Lunar New Year (make sure to Google the date as it changes every year), we spend our time reading library books about China, Chinese traditions and about the New Year celebrations. My favorites are: All About China, Living in China, Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap Book, Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year with Fireworks, Dragons and Lanterns, Bringing In the New Year, Curious George Dragon Dance. We try out (easy and kid friendly) recipes that we can make together. Last year we made long noodles (substituting peanut oil for coconut and using a deep frying pan instead of a wok), this year we made fried rice. We spend our arts and crafts time making the new year themed decorations for the house. We cut out dragons, oranges, lions. We attempt to draw the great wall of China. My daughter enjoys making improvised dragon or lion costumes out of card board boxes and blankets. We also make the zodiac animal corresponding to the in-coming year. 2017 is the year of the Rooster!
- Attend (if you can) or Celebrate At Home: There is noting like seeing the Chinese music and dance performances live. So i strongly recommend doing your research to find out if there are any performances taking place in the area. The colors, the sounds, the costumes, the theatrics, the rhythm are guaranteed to captivate you and your little ones. Depending on where the celebrations are taking place, you might also get a chance to participate in some fun new years themed arts and crafts as well as sample the food. However, you can also have a great time celebrating at home. I recommend showing your child the dragon and lion dance performances. Here are a few performance that stood out to me but there are plenty more online: Lion Dance Hong Kong 2017, Dragon Dance Hong Kong 2014. Also, make sure to dress up and serve long noodles and oranges at dinner as they are supposed to bring long live and prosperity. I found this site very helpful in helping plan the festivities at home. You can also always go to a Chinese restaurant or get take out!
- Follow Up: A fun way to follow up is by making a collage. I like to print out pictures from our memorable adventures (be it vacation photos, a trip to an amusement park or various family celebrations). We also keep the tickets! You can print pictures at home with a printer or use one of the local convenience stores/pharmacies (I use the Walgreens App to upload and print my photos). We have a lot of fun talking about each picture and deciding which order they should go in. It gives you an opportunity to reinforce some of the learning experiences and to relive the fun moments! The picture below is from our Chinese New Year celebration this year. 恭禧發財!