Chinese New Year

Teaching pupils about Chinese New Year offers a range of age-appropriate fun activities, from making lanterns to learning about Chinese zodiac animals, whilst being culturally diverse.

Here is summary of what you need to know and a link to lesson plan ideas.

What is Chinese New Year?

The reason the new year falls at this time is because it marks the start of the lunar new year, which is when there is the start of a new moon.  Because it depends on the moon, the date of Chinese New Year actually changes each year, but it will always fall sometime between 21 January and 20 February.

Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival. It is the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.

In Chinese tradition, each year is named after one of 12 animals, which feature in the Chinese zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. So, the animals will have a year dedicated to them once every 12 years, in a cycle. 2021 will be the year of the Ox, the Ox is reliable and trustworthy, people born in this year are said to be good leaders and good at making things.

How is it celebrated?
  • Before the festivities begin, people clean their homes really well to make them ready for the celebrations.Then, when New Year’s Day comes, there is a tradition not to pick up a broom, in case you sweep the good luck for the New Year out of the door!
  • In China, schools and businesses can close for the first few days of the new year, so that everyone can spend time with their families.
  • People enjoy eating lots of delicious food, including noodle soup, which traditionally brings luck for the year ahead. There will be parades and performances, with people dressed in traditional clothes.
  • Fireworks are also set off, because it is thought that noise and lights will scare away any evil spirits for the coming months.
  • Adults might give red envelopes to children with money inside too.
  • The festivities continue for two weeks, finishing with a special lantern festival, which signals the end of the New Year celebration period.

Here is a link to an excellent website which has lesson plans, activities, worksheets and resources relating to Chinese New Year for children of all ages.