Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Spring Festival - Chinese New Year

You can find all our posts on Chinese New Year HERE

The Chinese New Year was traditionally celebrated for fifteen days, ending with the lantern festival. Today, festivities generally take place from three days to a week.

The New Year begins on a different date each year as it begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice. This is based on the lunar calendar, therefore it is known as the Lunar New Year. This marks the beginning of spring, which is why it is also known as the Spring Festival. This year, the New Year begins on February 10th.

It is the time of year to gather with your family, and welcome the New Year. In China, children have a break from school, and adults have a holiday. Everyone travels to their hometowns to get together with their families for the festival.

Photo Credit: Irum Shahid

One myth associated with the Spring Festival tells of the monster Nian, who attacked humans the night before a new year. This monster was frightened away by a god, dressed as an old man, with crackling, burning bamboo. This god taught the humans that Nian is afraid of bright colors and loud noises. Therefore in order to "survive Nian", the Chinese decorate their homes with bright red colors and set off firecrackers.

Another legend relates to Chinese dragons, which are magical, powerful creatures that bring rain. However, the rain dragons sleep over the winter, resulting in very little, if any rain. The dragons must be awakened for spring in order to bring rain and new growth. The noise of noise makers, firecrackers and fireworks is used to awaken the dragons.

Check out this video of Beijing's New Year celebration with fireworks, firecrackers, and lots of merriment, as they "survive Nian".

Stock up on sparklers and noise makers for your Lunar New Year celebration. If you have acces to giant bubble wrap, lay it down and have your kids jump and pop them to scare off Nian. You can make a chinese noisemaker by following our tutorial here.

Firecrackers Craft

Make your own decorative firecrackers for the Lunar New Year.

You'll need cardboard tubes, red paper, gold and black markers.
We used a thin cardboard tube, saved from wrapping paper over Christmas, cut into sections, but toilet paper rolls work as well.

The size of your paper will depend on your roll, I gave it an extra inch in height, and wrapped a piece around to determine the width, then cut out the rest of my paper to size. For standard toilet paper tube, paper should be 6"wide by 5 1/2" high.
I creased the top and bottom where the extra paper would fold into the tube, in order for the girls to know where to stop drawing. And I recommend drawing before gluing the paper to the tube. It's much easier on a flat surface :)
We drew various good luck characters with a gold metallic marker and black permanent marker. Also a few snakes,for the year of the snake.
Glue or tape yarn to the rolls once decorated and hang.

You can find more cultural activities at the Culture Swapper linkup:


  1. Love all of your great crafts and activities! Thanks so much for linking up to the Culture Swapper this month! Would love to have you join the Multicultural Kid Blogs group as well. You can see our public page here: http://www.facebook.com/MulticulturalKidBlogs?ref=hl

    and go here to join:

  2. Thanks so much!
    I'd love to join - but wasn't able to following that link, it just mentions it's a closed group.

  3. Just featured you on this month's Culture Swapper!



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