Chinese New Year Brings a New Tradition For Kids — Mina Writes

This year, my house will be celebrating Chinese New Year. Just as with the previous years of celebrating Día de Muertos, per my daughter’s request, I will be finding ways to make the holiday great and try my best to follow the traditions of the culture.

New year vector created by pikisuperstar — www.freepik.com

2021 has already brought about a lot of new things and we are barely a month in. For myself, it has brought about a new job and career path, which is fantastic since I have two children that I miss dearly when I was at my 11 am-9 pm job.

The prospect of opening and closing a store and working the whole time by myself for a corporation has lost its appeal. If you feel the same and are tired of corporations dictating your life, make sure to sign up for e-mail notifications for when my Starting Freelancing newsletter goes live.

Now, my daughter is the curious type. I should have named her Alice since it would be spot on for her personality. She loves learning new things and asks questions about everything. Every day I am greeted with a new fact. One of her learning passions is other cultures. This could be the languages, dances, traditions, and holidays.

Before I go over the ways you can join in on the celebration, I think it is important to include some facts about the traditions. If you already know about the holiday, feel free to skip ahead to the activities. I’d love to hear how you celebrate!

Lunar New Year

Chinese New Year marks the end of the coldest days for the Chinese. The holidays are used to welcome spring but also reunite with family and honoring your ancestors. Traditionally, this was the time for planting, harvesting, new beginnings, and fresh starts.

This new year is often called the Lunar New Year since the dates for the festivities are set using the lunar calendar, instead of the Gregorian (solar) calendar.

That means the date for the celebration is never the same. A quick Google search shows the New Year for 2021 is on February 12, 11th for the New Year Eve. Traditionally, the full new year celebration would last nearly a month, starting around January 21st till around February 20th.

If you hop over to ChineseNewYear.net there is a wealth of information, including a calendar for those who want to celebrate. Starting on February 4th is Little Year, then the 11th is New Year’s Eve, and on the 12th we have the Spring Festival. If you want to go all out, you can celebrate till the Lantern Festival on the 26th of February.

We plan to cover as many days as we can. We have a birthday for my son on the 17th, so make sure to check out my Instagram on how we incorporate the Chinese New Year festivities with a Paw Patrol birthday. Yeah, I know, I have my work cut out for me.

Year of the Ox

In the Chinese Zodiac, there are 12 animals. Each one represents a year of the 12-year cycle, which is based on the lunar cycle. The animals traditionally start with the Rat, and then the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and finally the Pig.

If you are wondering why those animals and that order, there is a legend about it. The Great Race of the Chinese Zodiac is a fantastic one to tell and many renditions can be found online. Here is one I found pretty quickly, and it includes the reason why the cat isn’t in the Zodiac.

You can also type in your date of birth on that site to find out what animal you are. I was born in the year of the Monkey. Let me know your year in the comments below!

The Year of the Ox is the second in the 12-year cycle. He is the animal said to have carried the Rat to the finish line, though the Rat jumped down and landed there first and became the first animal. The Ox is associated with the earth (out of the 5 elements: earth, wood, fire, water, and metal) and hours 1–3 am.

The people in this year are said to be much like Oxen as they are hard workers, intelligent, and reliable. They work in the background and don’t demand praise for their work. Honesty and the belief that people should do what they are supposed to are a top priority for people in the year of the Ox. They tend to think more logically and do well in leadership roles.

These traits also carry over into the year itself. It is said the year will be grounded, slow, and passive. After the ever-changing 2020 (year of the Rat), I gladly welcome the slow pace of the new year!

However, this will include hard work, dedication, and double down to get things accomplished. There are no catastrophes to be seen (so far) like we saw last year.

It is said that the Metal Ox is also great for sorting out issues in the family and getting everything resolved. Overall, the year is said to be a lucky one.

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

Don’t Dismiss Your New Good Luck!

A few tips of things you shouldn’t do when observing Chinese New Year include leaving scissors or brooms out. They are said to create bad luck for the year and brush away good luck.

· Don’t cut your hair or wash it on the first days of the Lunar New Year. This would be ‘washing’ away your good luck.

· A few house rules for the first day (Feb. 12th): Don’t sweep or wash clothes. These two things are said to clean away the good luck of the new year. If you must clean, do it after dark.

· Gifts should be colorful (not black or white) and avoid giving watches or shoes. Watches can symbolize time is running out while shoes would mean one could walk away from a relationship or friendship.

· Avoid uneven numbers, as they are considered bad luck. Even numbers are good, 8 is the most fortunate.

· Dress in vibrant colors, especially red, if you can. Avoid black, white, or dark blue during this time.

Edible Prosperity

There are several traditional dishes that could be used for the reunion dinner held on New Year Eve. I happen to have a house full of picky eaters but will be doing my best to make it authentic.

Subscribe to see next week’s blog with recipes I found and plan on using to make our New Year dinner special. I would also love to hear your recipes you plan on making for the reunion dinner!

The most popular dishes (and their meanings) that I have seen so far are dumplings (wealth), fruit such as tangerines (fullness and wealth), rice cakes (higher income or promotion), sweet rice balls (family; togetherness), and fish (increase in prosperity). Spring rolls and sweets were also extremely common.

Festivities

With so many days in the celebration, there are literally tons of things you can do. Most are family-oriented and involve spending time with one another.

Though it is a huge part of Chinese New Year, it is hard to find fireworks in many places or it is illegal to set them off. For this reason, I have skipped over the fireworks aspect of celebrating.

With the coming year, a little history, and things to avoid out of the way, let’s go ahead and talk about the fun stuff you could do.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Here Are a Few Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year

Sweep Away Bad Luck

Before the new year starts, get to cleaning! That way, you have a fresh clean home when the New Year begins. It is said to get all the cleaning done before the new year so you don’t sweep away the good luck the new year brings.

This also can symbolize sweeping and cleaning the previous bad year away. With the way 2020 went, clean as much as you can! I will be getting out my mini broom and duster for the kids and let them go to town cleaning while I tackle the bigger projects.

One thing I want to emphasize (and will be covering in later blogs) is decluttering. Get rid of all those extra shirts you don’t like, the gift someone gave you three years ago that you hate (but can’t get rid of because it was a gift), or just junk that has been hanging around.

I live with a hoarder, so getting rid of the junk that ‘will be useful someday’ is a struggle in my house. However, for the next week, we will be working on getting life back on track to start this new year right!

If you can’t recycle things, donate them. There are tons of places that take donations, even in small towns like mine. Regifting things is also a great way to get them out of your house and let someone else enjoy things.

I hate to tell you this but if you can’t donate and are desperate (I’ve been there!), just throw it away. Don’t let clutter control you anymore, just throw it away if there is no other option.

This is a great time to wash curtains, deep clean your fridge, and toss your kid’s washable toys in the dishwasher. If you don’t have one, I’m not judging, we don’t either simply because it is a small kitchen.

We get mesh bags (Dollar Tree is your friend) and put a few toys in them with a towel or two and pop them in the washer. I don’t recommend putting them in the dryer, and make sure it is just small plastic toys that won’t be ruined by water.

Check out GoodHouseKeeping for their spring cleaning tips. If you are more like me and want a checklist, you can check out Martha Stewart’s ultimate checklist.

Lucky Money

The red that you see during the Chinese New Year represents prosperity. Red envelopes, also called red packets or pockets, are given to children on New Year’s Eve (February 11th) after the reunion dinner.

This is a sign of passing along good fortune from elders to the kids. These can also be given to friends, co-workers, and employees.

For instructions on making your own Red Envelopes, hop on over to Chalk Academy where you can find an awesome tutorial and free printable. For those who aren’t crafty, you can always jump to Amazon and find several different options.

Background photo created by evening_tao — www.freepik.com

Decorating

As covered previously, red is the prime color for the Chinese New Year. Gold is also extremely popular. Decorations could include Chinese Couplets, paper cutting, paintings (of legendary figures, plants, or dragons), and mini lanterns!

We plan on making some paintings, lanterns, and watching dragon dances.

If you would like to check out an amazing use for your Christmas lights (no shame if they are still up), you can head over to Doodlecraft blog where Natalie has an in-depth tutorial for creating Chinese Lanterns using Christmas lights.

Katie over at Gift of Curiosity has an awesome drum craft to make your own Chinese New Year drum to use during the dragon or lion dance! My children love to dance, so I was thrilled to find a tutorial!

Another way you could celebrate is to get a carton of eggs and paint each zodiac animal on them. It would be best to hard-boil the eggs for smaller children. I plan on doing this for my two and will upload the results.

Reunion

Last but possibly the most important, sit down dinner with your family. With the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, I understand if you can’t get the whole family together. Try to Facetime or Zoom them if possible.

If nothing else, sit down with your household and have dinner with no electronics or anything distracting. Tell each other what you appreciate most about someone and what you hope the new year will bring. Family is one of the most important aspects of your life, regardless of if that is your chosen family or biological.

I personally include close friends in with my family, so I will be sending out thank you messages to each of them. Of course, I don’t expect them to attend my family dinner, but just sending a message to those you care about is a small way to show your appreciation for them.

But don’t forget to include everyone in the preparations. This is a great chance to let those eager little helpers in the kitchen and help you prepare the feast. Even if they are too young to do much, they can help mix and stir things.

Now that my oldest can read, I like to let her gather the ingredients we will be using before we start cooking together. My little one is crazy about mixing things together and helping in any way he can.

There are plenty of activities and fun things to do for the Spring Festival and Chinese New Year, but the most important aspect is family. Don’t forget to send little messages for those you can’t see and let them know how much you appreciate them!

How do you plan to celebrate Chinese New Year? Let me know in the comments below!

Originally published at https://mina-writes.com on January 25, 2021.

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I am a freelance writer for hire, specializing in digital marketing, content creation, and copywriting. Find me at Mina-Writes.com

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Mina Presley

I am a freelance writer for hire, specializing in digital marketing, content creation, and copywriting. Find me at Mina-Writes.com