新年快樂朋友們！Xīn Nián Kuài Lè Péngyǒumen! (Happy New Year Friends!)
I bet you're wondering how a little sun bear gets to travel the world so easily. Well, it's all thanks to my magical red air balloon, a special gift from my friend, Viracocha. It's really fast and always knows just where I need to go! Pretty neat, right? Speaking of red, there are so many red lanterns and decorations here in China right now because they are celebrating the New Year! My red air balloon blends in really well and I've learned that red is a very special color to the Chinese because it is believed to bring good luck in the new year. Let me tell you more about the Chinese New Year, and after that you can try a fun craft (below) you can use to celebrate!
In China, each year is represented by an animal in a pattern called a "zodiac". There are twelve animals in the zodiac: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. This year (2016) is the Year of the Monkey! He is seen as a very clever character, although he can be a bit mischievous. (Photo of Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey By Giovanni Mari (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons).
Chinese New Year 2020: This year is the "Year of the Rat." The Rat is the first of all zodiac animals, but how did that happen? One myth suggests that the Jade Emperor was having a party. He said the order of the zodiac calendar would be decided by the order in which the animals arrived to the party. Even though the Rat was the smallest animal, it tricked the Ox into giving him a ride to the party. As they arrived at the finish line, the Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox, becoming the first animal to arrive at the Jade Emperor's party. Now, that is very tricky! If you were born in the years of 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020 you were born in the Year of the Rat. To learn more about the Rat, you can visit this website (but remember to be responsible and check with your parent/teacher before visiting the website). (Photo of Rat above by No machine-readable author provided. Inge Habex assumed (based on copyright claims). [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons).
Chinese New Year 2019: Here's a new update with the animal that is celebrated this year: the pig. That's right, it is the Year of the Pig! The pig is the twelfth Chinese zodiac animal and is considered the symbol of wealth in the Chinese cultures. If you were born in the years 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, you were born in the Year of the Pig and considered to love having fun, be enthusiastic, and blessed with good fortune in life. You can click on the link below to learn more about the pig and other Chinese zodiac animals. (Photo of Pig above by PublicDomainPictures/17913 images via Pixabay).
Chinese New Year 2018: Here is my update for the year 2018-it is the Year of the Dog my friends! The Dog is the eleventh of the Chinese zodiac animals. People born on the Year of the Dog are known to be loyal, honest and true friends. If you were born in the year of 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, your zodiac animal is the Dog. Here is a great website that shares more about all Chinese zodiac animals! Also, for educators, I wanted to share this Chinese New Year Lesson plan with stories and props by Kid World Citizen. It is a fun way to explore more about the Chinese culture and New Year festivities with students.
Photo Above By DaPuglet [CC BY-SA 2.0] via flickr.
Chinese New Year 2017: I wanted to update my travel blog to share that the year 2017 is the Year of the Rooster! The rooster is seen as a confident, smart and honest character, but he can be a little moody sometimes. The Year of the Rooster will last until February 15, 2018. I've found some great books and crafts by Miss Panda Chinese to help you learn even more about China and the traditions of Chinese New Year, hope you enjoy friends!
China is an ancient land, with many customs and celebrations, but the New Year is probably the most popular among the kids here. There is dragon dancing, lantern festivals, feasts and firecrackers!
The New Year celebration is based on the lunar calendar, and has been celebrated for over four thousand years to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The festivities last fifteen days and end with the lantern festival on the first full moon of the year.
To prepare for the Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival (春節 in Chinese), families clean their homes so that any bad luck from the old year won't follow them into the new year. Do you love tangerines and oranges? Well if you do, you will see a lot of them around here during the new year! They are set out in bowls to represent good luck and wealth. Flowers are placed all around the home along with red paper cutouts, banners and spring couplets (short two-lined rhymes) which are thought to keep negative energy away. I am also loving all the diamond shaped red signs with lucky Chinese characters written on them. These are hung in the doorways of homes to welcome the new year with good fortune-and they are very pretty! Families also get new haircuts and clothes to start the new year fresh.
Photo Above By Joy Sun Bear, Inc. (www.joysunbear.com)
Many children in China look forward to setting off the firecrackers on the new year, but even more popular are the little red envelopes that are handed out with money inside! These are called “hong bao“ in Mandarin, “lai see” in Cantonese. The envelopes are red, a lucky color in Chinese, to signify good fortune, and most of the time have phrases about prosperity printed in gold on them.
Below you can watch a fun video that will teach you more about the beginning of Chinese New Year provided by Panda Express.
If you watch the video, you'll learn that the new year is celebrated with fireworks and drums to scare off the mean spirits that don't like loud noises. If you want to celebrate too, you can make this great monkey noisemaker to shake away the mean spirits and help bring good fortune into the new year! Check out the monkey noisemakers below that my friends made:
Photos Above By Joy Sun Bear, Inc. (www.joysunbear.com)
Next week, I'll tell you what I've learned about the Chinese culture, how the children learn and play, food, and I'll share a great recipe for a simple and fun Chinese favorite that you can make at home with your parents - yum!
I love books and know they are a great way to learn more about our world! So click here for even more fun books about China and Chinese New Year and feel free to leave a comment below to share some of your favorites with me (with the permission of your parent, guardian or teacher, of course)!
Thanks for visiting and have a Xīn Nián Kuài Lè (Happy New Year)!
Joy Sun Bear