Have you ever received a little red envelope with some money in it, or been witness to a dragon dance? If so, you likely know something about Lunar New Year, which you may also know as Chinese New Year.
As we usher in the Year of the Tiger, more than 1.5 billion people across the world will gather with family and friends to take part in Lunar New Year. So here at 3Doodler, we thought we would dive in to learn a little bit about what the holiday means, and explore some fun activities that kids of all ages can engage in whether at home or at school.
When does the Lunar New Year start?
Unlike the Gregorian calendar, which has Jan. 1 as the beginning of the new year, Lunar New Year doesn’t always take place on the same day. As you may have inferred from the name, Lunar New Year is based on the moon’s phases – each of which lasts around 29 days. We talked about the moon’s phases earlier this month, which you can read more about here. The Lunar New Year takes place annually on the new moon that appears between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. This Lunar New Year was on Feb. 1, while the 2023 new year will start on Jan. 22.
What traditions are associated with Lunar New Year?
Much like how some celebrate New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day and the good luck that a new year brings, Lunar New Year is a time for people to reset and look forward to the opportunity of a fresh start that comes with a new year. This important holiday that’s celebrated among East and Southeast Asian cultures, including Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean communities, is a celebration of feasting, spiritual reflection, and honoring of ancestors.
Some other traditions include buying new clothes, getting haircuts for personal self-care, and cleaning one’s house and business so as to remove any clutter and leftover things from the previous year. And of course, traditional family feasting is in abundance.
Another key difference between the Dec. 31 NYE / Jan. 1 New Year’s day celebrations and Lunar New Year, is that the latter is a 16-day observation. Because of this extended break from work, people try to prioritize spending quality time with extended family, which is one of the only times in the year when people are able to do so.
The Year of the Tiger
While last year was the year of the Ox, this year is the year of the tiger, the first since 2010. The tiger is frequently associated with things like courage, ambition, strength and a commitment to help others for the greater good. With the current state of global health and COVID-19 – we could all use a good dose of these traits in 2022.
Each Lunar year is represented by a cycle of 12 zodiac animals. Each zodiac animal is associated with a combination of traits. In case you were wondering what zodiac animal you were born into, or how the zodiac signs line up over the next couple of years, this image depicts it well.
So how does your community celebrate Lunar New Year? As schools teach about this important holiday, a great activity for students is to research the East Asian heritage in their own community and find out what types of Chinese or Lunar New Year celebrations are taking place locally. Some cities might be bringing back festivals or parades. Your local children’s museum might also host a Lunar New Year Celebration day.
Another fun way to learn about the holiday is through books. These are some of our favorite PreK-5 books. And here is a great online book that retells the legends associated with the origins of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals.
The Lunar New Year in Doodles
In addition to the above resources, we also wanted to share a couple of fun hands-on projects to help you celebrate this important time of year. The first is a tiger decal to help bring you good luck in the New Year.
Our second project is a DIY Chinese lantern. In China, the first full moon of the new Lunar Year is traditionally celebrated with a holiday called Yuan Xiao Festival, a.k.a. Lantern Festival. During the festival, houses and streets are decorated with colorful and intricate lanterns. This is our take on respectfully celebrating this tradition. This project is a slightly more complex Doodle and will put your concentration and design skills to the test. Explore the tutorial here.