lanterns

Celebrating Lunar Year

My husband and I are an interracial couple. I am Gujarati and he is a mix of Chinese, Filipino, and Japanese. Together, we immerse our daughter in all of our cultures through books, food, stories, activities and by celebrating Lunar New Year and many different holidays such as Diwali, Christmas and Holi. 

This year, Lunar New Year falls on February 12th of this year. The celebrations generally fall between late January or February. I’ve been participating in Lunar New Year celebrations with my husband since we began dating over a decade ago. Lunar New Year is celebrated in China, Vietnam, Korea, as well as other Asian countries and communities. Each year is marked by a different zodiac animal and 2021 is the year of the Ox. 

To celebrate, families decorate their homes with items that represent luck, light lanterns, and prepare feasts with traditional foods. In Chinese and some other Asian cultures, children are given red envelopes with money inside. The red envelopes signify good luck, fortune, and prosperity. The Lunar New Year festivities also include fireworks, parades, and dances with people dressing up as dragons and lions.

In our home, we’ve been incorporating a variety of children’s’ books on Lunar New Year. It’s onw of the easiest ways to teach your children about another culture or holiday. These four are favorites ones for this holiday. The first three are about Chinese New Year and the last book discusses Lunar New Year in different Asian communities. 

Lunar New Year Books

Celebrate the World – Lunar New Year by Hannah Eliot

This is a board book that offers a simple but great explanation of Chinese New Year. The illustrations by Alina Chau are colorful and so beautiful. Her artwork is amazing and the details in her images provide good discussion points. We came across this book after reading and enjoying the Diwali book from this series. 

Mulan’s Lunar New Year (Disney) by Natasha Yum

The amazing illustrations are by Sophie Li and the color scheme of the book is so fitting with the theme of the festivities. We really enjoyed this book. As Mulan helps her family prepare for Lunar New Year, we learn about the different traditions and their significance. She also encounters some preparation mishaps that her family comforts and helps her with. 

Ruby’s Chinese New Year by Vickie Lee

The illustrations by Joey Chou are so fun, colorful, and vibrant – we really like the art in this book. The story follows a little girl named Ruby as she sets off to visit her grandmother for Lunar New Year to give her a card. Along the way, she meets the 12 zodiac animals, who help her bring items used for Lunar New Year celebrations. The book provides a brief summary of the legend of the Chinese Zodiac animals and a chart of the animals’ characteristics and years. There are also three Lunar New Year craft ideas. 

Our Lunar New Year Celebrating Lunar New Year in Asian Communities by Yobe Qiu

This book has five simple stories following a different child as they celebrate their respective New Years with their families and the traditions of their culture in China, Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, and India. The illustrations are unique to each story. Side Note: Diwali was included; however, it is celebrated at a different time of the year and it is not explained in much detail in this book. I would use other Diwali specific books.

Lunar New Year Lantern Craft

We paired a fun activity with our reading. DIY Paper Lanterns are a simple, fun, and festive Lunar New Year crafts for all kids. All you need is colored construction paper, items to decorate the lanterns with (markers, crayons, stickers, washi tape, paper pieces to glue on), a ruler, scissors, glue stick and clear tape). This activity should be done with adult supervision. 

Let’s Get Crafting:

  1. Cut off a 0.5-1 inch strip from the construction paper along the shorter side, set aside for the handle of the lantern.
  2. Lengthwise, fold the paper in half. About 1 inch below the edge of the paper, draw a line lengthwise with a ruler – use a pencil, marker, or put a strip of washi tape on that line. This will be the marker for when to stop cutting in a future step.
  3. Open up the paper and have your child decorate the side with the line mark. Sew up a tray filled with items to decorate.
  4. Once decorated, fold the paper up lengthwise again and at the folded end of the paper mark points about 1 inch apart faintly (or can also faintly draw lines perpendicular to the lengthwise line to the line from step two). You can match the line from step two on the other side of the folded paper and add a line there, about 1 inch below the edge of the paper lengthwise. 
  5. Cut strips along the 1 inch mark points on the folded edge to the line marked on step two. 
  6. Erase any pencil marks and unfold the paper.
  7. Roll the paper into a cylinder and tape it together at the top and bottom edges to connect.
  8. Attach the handle (strip from step one) with glue or tape to the top of the lantern.

For more crafting, check out my Etsy Shop, Sona Sparkles, for the Lunar New Year Celebration Packet I created. It has a variety of Lunar New Year and Year of the Ox themed coloring sheets and activities. Happy Lunar New Year!

Written by Contributor Sona. Follow her on IG at @sona_sparkles for more arts and crafts, parenting stories and more.

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