Happy Chinese New Year! (Gung Hay Fat Choy!)
China’s most important and longest festival, Chinese New Year marks the end of winter and welcomes spring with 15 days of festivities. It’s the middle of winter here in the Pacific Northwest but Chinese New Year is still the perfect opportunity to introduce our kids to the rich traditions of this ancient culture.
Books are always our favorite starting place. The best ones we’ve found so far are Lin Yi’s Lantern, My First Chinese New Year, and The Pet Dragon (this last one is actually about Chinese characters, not the New Year but it all tied together beautifully).
Simple instructions for making a paper lantern are at the back of Lin Yi’s Lantern and before I knew it, Sara was off making lanterns on her own. When a 4-year-old can look at pictures and figure out the steps of a project on her own, you know it’s a good one. She only needed help with the very last step and after that, she and her big bro proceeded to make 20-some lanterns in one sitting.
Bright red paper would have been ideal for making Chinese New Year Lanterns (red symbolizes good luck and happiness in China) but my kids were happy using plain old copy paper then decorating it with red (and other) markers.
To make a place for some of our lanterns to hang (we didn’t bother putting handles on most of them), I took some branches from outside and glue-gunned silk plum blossoms on. Plum blossoms symbolize courage and hope because it blooms first and withstands the threats of winter. Our lanterns were a little large but the branches still made a nice centerpiece.