Happy almost Year of the Dragon! Lunar New year is undoubtedly the most important holiday in my family’s culture, and I have such fond memories of celebrating it (feeling all the nostalgia reading this post from Guangzhou)! After having kids, it became more important to me to learn and share pieces of my culture alongside the language. It’s not always easy especially in a multi-cultural household, but if they grow up even a tiny bit proud of this part of themselves, then it’ll have been worth it!
Here are a few ways we’ll be celebrating:
1. Crafting + sharing at school
It made my heart happy that Nori asked me to come back to her school and share about LNY again! Last year for Pre-K I read a book (see #6 below), shared Asian fruits and made paper lanterns with the class. This year for her Kindergarten class, I’ll be sharing this dragon clothespin craft (using ours to clip bags of snacks) and handing out red envelopes filled with these temporary dragon tattoos.
Downloadable templates: I got mine from Twinkl, a gem of a website for educators! I randomly stumbled upon this site, made a free account (quick & easy; required for downloading content) and found it to be a wealth of resources, crafts and activities for kids. There’s multiple printouts and even video tutorials for just Lunar New Year alone.
2. Wearing Red
In Chinese culture red is very auspicious, symbolizing good luck, good fortune, and many other good things! And for after the fesitivities are over, I always love a classic red year-round either as a statement piece or small accent to an outfit.
3. Eating Noodles (long noodles = long life)
“Changshou mian,” or “long-life noodles” symbolize a life of longevity, happiness, and health. Nick makes delicious Asian Garlic Noodles (our #1 most made recipe on the blog) which the kids always slurp up, and we’ll be making this as a side dish to serve alongside traditional Hong Kong style BBQ meats.
4. Reading Books
My kids have enjoyed Peppa Pig Chinese New Year and Grace Lin’s Bringing In the New Year since they. were babies. The first one was more fun for her Pre-K class, while the second one is informative about traditional Chinese customs for LNY with lovely illustrations.
5. Giving Red Envelopes
Traditionally, children and unmarried young adults receive lucky “hong bao” or red envelopes filled with money from relatives and close friends. I bought my envelopes on Amazon, but I believe banks like Chase and Wells Fargo provide red envelopes for free for their customers, or you can buy them at Asian groceries.
I was never taught this growing up, but learned in recent years that it’s important to give and receive the envelopes with both hands. You can read a little more about the history and customs surrounding red envelopes here.
6. Making Dumplings
See my reel video here on our dumpling-folding technique and an easy recipe we use for the filling.
Dumplings are the shape of gold nuggets from ancient China and represent prosperity in the new year. I have fond memories from growing up of our whole family -young and old- getting involved with dumpling making on holidays. My mom and relatives insist on dumplings made fully from scratch, but I find that store-bought wrappers as a shortcut make it a lot more feasible for me to continue this tradition!
7. Attending a local traditional Lion Dance
For fellow Bostonians, here’s the info for the festivities in Chinatown!