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Celebrating the Chinese New Year

Submitted by on December 30, 2012 – 2:38 pmNo Comment

This year, the Chinese New Year falls on February 10 and 2013 is the year of the Snake!


by Minette Riordan

Do your children ever ask why the Chinese don’t celebrate the New Year at the same time we do? I love the opportunity to teach my children about how and why other cultures celebrate different traditions and the Chinese New Year is always a popular one with children. Who doesn’t love colorful costumes and amazing dancing dragons?

What your children may not know, is that the date of the Chinese New Year changes every year, according the lunar calendar and that the celebrations can last from two weeks to a month. This is considered one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture. Like so many of our own traditions, celebrations were based on agriculture. Laura Young, editor for, writes “Originally the celebrations lasted for lengthy amounts of time because China was a very agriculture-based country so farmers took the whole month off to rest since crops couldn’t be planted during the winter. Nowadays most families celebrate the New Year for about two week’s time, says Ng, starting on the first day of the new year and end on the 15th. “

One of the traditions that I would love for my family to adopt is to clean our home from top to bottom to thoroughly clear out any bad luck from the previous year and prepare our house to accept good luck for the coming year. Visit for more information on the how and why of clearing your home to make way for the new!

It is also the tradition on New Year’s Eve for the family to gather together to eat. They usually prepare eight or nine dishes because these are considered lucky numbers. Some of the traditional foods might include whole fish, whole chicken (with head and feet, they symbolize a proper beginning and end to the year), and dumplings shaped like gold nuggets or Chinese money. To celebrate with your family on Feb. 2, you might create your favorite Chinese dish at home.

One piece of Chinese culture that most children love is learning about Chinese astrology and what animal corresponds to the year of their birth.

Here is some great information from on how the animals of the Zodiac were chosen:

“There are endless variations of the folklore story explaining how the order of the animals of the zodiac were chosen. Below is a popular telling of tale:

When it came time for the Jade Emperor in heaven to decide the order of the zodiac, he invited all the animals to participate in a race. The order of the zodiac would be decided by the order in which animals finished the race.

When the competition started, the ox was leading the pack, but the rat jumped on his back. Since the rat was so light and small, the ox did not realize that the rat was hitching a ride. As the ox approached the finish line, the rat leap off his back and was crowned as the first animal to complete the race.

After all the creatures finished the race, the order was finalized: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

According to legend, those born in a particular year of an animal are said to possess particular character traits associated with that animal.”

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