Chinese New Year falls on February 14, 2010, offering a fun, cultural alternative to Valentine’s Day for all ages. Consider throwing a party or just incorporating a few Chinese cultural traditions into your day to celebrate Chinese New Year.
If your school’s mascot is a tiger, take full advantage of the Year of the Tiger with a Chinese New Year party centered around your own tigers.
Chinese New Year celebrations can last over two weeks as they lead up to the Lantern Festival. Since the Chinese follow a lunar calendar, Chinese New Year falls on a different day according to U. S. customs each year. The end of the twelfth lunar month is full of cleaning to get all the previous year’s dirt out of the house before the new year starts. Chinese folklore has carried into the American tradition of now wanting to start a new year with old dirt in it because you will carry your old problems and concerns into the new year. Reciprocally, you should never clean anything on New Years Day to avoid cleaning out all of the good luck the new year has brought.
On New Year’s Eve, February 13 of 2010, gather with your friends and family to eat Chinese dumplings. This tradition began because the Chinese word for dumplings is a pun on the Chinese phrase for “new things replacing previous things.”
No Chinese New Year party is complete without lots of loud firecrackers – the louder the better. Chinese tradition encourages setting off fireworks to scare demons away from the home. If your area does not legally allow fireworks, look for similar, legal alternatives. Most fireworks laws draw a distinction between gunpowder based snaps (often sold at fairs and festivals) and sparklers. You can also purchase loud crackers and noisemakers at party stores to substitute for the fireworks.
Decorating with lots of red will also keep those pesky demons away from your home. Wear red clothing, hang red banners, and find red Chinese lanterns to light the party.
Have special Chinese New Year party favors ready for your guests. Prepare red envelopes for small amounts of money. You could modify the tradition with gift cards in $5 denominations for your guests instead of giving cash.
Riddles are a common Chinese tradition for New Year’s celebrations. As a Chinese New Year party game or a classroom activity lesson plan, quiz guests and students on famous people born during the Year of the Tiger. First, list attributes traditionally considered part of the personality of people born during the Year of the Tiger: emotionally sensitive, adventurous risk takers with short tempers and sometimes suspicious motives. Then give clues about the person’s accomplishments and let people guess the name. Famous Tigers include Marilyn Monroe, Beatrix Potter (author of the Peter Rabbit series), Emily Dickinson, Karl Marx, U. S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Beethoven and Karl Marx.