Chinese New Year for Kids
Welcoming the Year of the Horse!
Of all the Chinese festivals, Chinese New Year is for kids of all ages the most loved and anticipated.
In China, planes, trains, buses, boats, donkeys, and any means of transportation you can imagine, are jammed packed with people returning home to enjoy the celebrations with their friends and family.
And all over the world, wherever there is a Chinatown, the festivities are a colorful display of dragon dances, lantern festivals, feasts, and of course firecrackers!
The History of Chinese New Year
This traditional fest has been celebrated for more than four thousand years.
It came about from ancient celebrations to mark the end of the long winter season and the beginning of spring.
It celebrates the earth coming back to life and the beginning of the growing cycle.
This is why it is also called the Spring Festival.
For Chinese people all over, the Lunar New Year is the celebration of the year, a time for happy reunions, family and friends,
rich in colorful traditions and customs.
When is Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year 2014 will be on January 31, 2014
In western countries, New Year's Day always falls on January 1st. In China, New Year's Day is also the first day of the first month of the Lunar Calendar! Therefore, Chinese New Year dates vary each year and could fall at the end of January or in February.
The New Year celebrations begin on New Year's Eve, the big party is on New Year's Day, and the action continues for the next 15 days. It all ends with the first full moon of the year, fifteen days later with the Lantern Festival, another great carnival and the perfect ending to this great holiday season.
As per long-standing Chinese customs, each year is assigned an animal according to the Chinese Zodiac.
Click here to learn more about the Chinese Zodiac and the animal that corresponds to the year you were born.
The Traditions and Celebrations...
There are many Chinese traditions associated with the New Year celebrations, here are a few of the most popular ones:
The Preparations: This is the most important of holidays for Chinese, preparations start a couple of weeks before the big day: House-cleaning, putting away knives, paying respects to the ancestors, preparing the feast, making decorations... So many superstitions and traditions to get ready for the new year!.
The Big Day
The Celebrations: At home, kids anxiously await the coming of the new year. This is a time for family gatherings and the biggest feast of the year. Kids look forward to their lucky red envelopes and setting off firecrackers. Learn more about the celebrations and the "lucky foods" for the New Year's banquet.
Xmas Tree? Santa?
No Christmas Tree like we have in the West, but instead, Chinese decorate the house with mandarin trees for good luck, which by the way, also make good presents if you are visiting someone. Instead of Santa Claus and presents, Chinese children get the lucky and shiny Red Envelopes, which contain money.
And around town, businesses decorate their shops, offices and restaurants. Red and gold garlands and lanterns line the streets, lucky mandarin trees and plum blossoms are set about for good fortune and is overall a very festive atmosphere everywhere you go. The celebrations are ongoing, for the next fifteen days, and the noisier, louder and roaring, the better! Here's what to watch out for:
The Dragon Dance Parade brings good luck and prosperity for the coming year and is an essential ingredient of any Chinese celebration, specially the Lunar New Year. The Dragon Dances begin on New Year's Day, and continue throughout the festivities for the next fifteen days. A cloth dragon is held on poles by a team of a dozen or more members who make the dragon "dance" by raising and lowering the poles. Here's more on the Chinese Dragon Dance, videos, costumes and more.
The Chinese Lion Dance is often mixed up with the Chinese Dragon Dance. The Dragon Dance is performed by a team of ten or more dancers, whereas the Lion Dance team consists of only two. The Lion Dancers perform to the sound of drums for the first three to five days of the New Year. They dance in front of stores and businesses to scare off the evil spirits and to bring good luck to everyone. Here's more on Chinese Lion Dances, videos, pictures, costumes, music to perform your own Lion Dance!
Lavish Fireworks Displays are a staple of a Chinese New Year celebration. All cities accross China will put on their best, after all, this is the country that invented them. If you happen to be in China during this time, or in any big city with a large Chinese population, don't miss them! One of the most lavish displays in what has to be one of the most breathtaking settings takes place in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour, check it out on our sister site here.
So let's get a head start with those preparations! These links will take you to some of our most popular pages to get ready for the celebrations:
Chinese New Year Traditional Decorations
What are the typical ornaments for the Spring Festival? Instead of shiny red Christmas balls we have shiny red lanterns... orange and mandarin trees replace the Christmas tree... Holly leaves and red berries? Try plum blossoms instead!
This is a great time if you happen to be in China. Just beware that traveling during and around these times is very difficult and planning ahead is essential.
Send a FREE Chinese New Year e-Card!It's easy and it's free! Choose from more than 60 great designs, customize and personalize your greeting.
Here's a short Chinese New Year clip from the celebrations in China, click on the arrow to play!
You can learn more about how this festivity is celebrated in China and around the world, the different customs and traditions with these short stories and easy to read books:
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When is Chinese New Year?Chinese New Year 2014 is on January 31, 2014
The Year of the Horse!
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Chinese New Year Decorations and Party Supplies
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