I know Chinese New Year was January 31 this year, but when I found this Chinese Dragon painting project, we decided to make a homeschool pARTy of it, even if it was in March. A day of history and culture and art all in one.
Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar, which is a lunar based calendar. The 15-day celebration ends on the first Full Moon of the calendar year. Chinese New Year has been celebrated for over 4000 years and originally celebrated the end of the long Winter and beginning of Spring. Because of this it is also called the Spring Festival. According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2014 is the Year of the Horse.
We looked at this Chinese Zodiac chart and read each of our strengths and weaknesses based on which animal year we were each born in. The kids really enjoyed this. My son and I, as well as one of my nieces, were all born in the Year of the Sheep which means we have a hard time dealing with change, we’re good at planning (i.e. we’re kind of control freaks) and it takes us a long time to make friends. Yup! (Although my son makes friends everywhere we go, so that doesn’t fit him.)
Traditions and Superstitions
We discussed the meanings of tradition and superstition and then went through a list of things that are typically done as part of the Chinese New Year preparation and celebration and determined which each falls under….
- Thoroughly clean house to “sweep away ill-fortune and make way for incoming good luck”
- Put away knives
- Preparing feasts for family parties and dinners
- Have community celebrations and events
- Take shoes off at door when attending family parties and dinners and “walk softly to make a smooth transition into the New Year”
- Wear red
- Decorate with red and gold because red represents fire and drives away bad luck, brings happiness and prosperity
- Don’t wear or decorate with white because it represents death
- Eat lucky foods like oranges and noodles
- Beginning on the first day of the 15 days of celebration, there are Dragon Dance Parades in the streets and at events to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year
- For the first 3 to 5 days, the Chinese Lions dance in front of stores and businesses to scare off evil spirits and bring good luck to everyone
- Red envelopes with paper money in amounts ending in an even number, are given as gifts
Beginning on the first day of the 15 days of celebration, there are Dragon Dance Parades in the streets and at events to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year. We watched this fun Dragon Dance video…
And then drew and painted our own Chinese Dragons based on this lesson from DeepSpaceSparkle.com…
(Click on any image to open the carousel image viewer)
As a break in our project, we watched this Lion Dance video. The Lion Dances occur in the first 3 to 5 days of the Chinese New Year celebration. They dance in front of stores and businesses to scare off evil spirits and bring good luck.
The Lantern Festival is the ending celebration of Chinese New Year and so, to end our day, we made paper lanterns using this fun tutorial on Spoonful.com. Lanterns made of a variety of materials in different shapes and sizes, line the streets and are hung from homes and storefronts. Historically, red lanterns were placed on doorways to communicate joy and vitality because of a baby’s birth or an impending marriage. Alternately, white lanterns meant a death in the family.
Also we ate oranges and fortune cookies, for good luck. = )
Our Chinese New Year pARTy was about 3-1/2 hours long and worked best for the older kids. I included our preschooler as much as possible and brought a dragon coloring page and Year of the Horse maze. I also had a Chinese New Year word search for our 1st grader and whoever else wanted to do it. We could have spent more time on the dragon project, as most of them didn’t have time to finish the background of their dragons. Overall, what a great day we had!
(I apologize in advance if I have my information wrong. Please feel free to message me with corrections if needed. Thanks!)