Gong xi fa cai! Happy New Year! Next week begins the Year of the Goat. Lunar New Year (also called Spring Festival or Chinese New Year) will be celebrated from February 19th-March 5th this year and there are lots of ways to introduce your kids to this rich cultural tradition. I wanted to share some local events and crafts/activities for families interested in participating in this exciting holiday tradition.
Chinese New Year Parade
Head to the Chinatown Lunar New Year parade on February 22, 2015. Watch the lion and dragon dances, listen to the bands and marvel at the floats that travel on Wentworth Avenue and Cermak Road.
After the parade, be sure to stop at one of the delicious restaurants in Chinatown. For delicious dumplings and pot stickers, try Lao Shanghai (2163 S. China Place). Satisfy your sweet tooth at Chiu Quon Bakery (2242 S. Wentworth Avenue) for dessert. Try a sesame pork cookie or try a sweet bun.
Festival of Lanterns
The 15th day of the New Year marks the Festival of Lanterns. Streets become filled with lanterns and performances. Dancing dragons will perform in front of office buildings because the dragon represents prosperity and good luck. On March 1 at 12 p.m., be sure to attend the Chinese New Year Lantern Festival at Navy Pier. Head to the Crystal Gardens at Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) for a free event to celebrate the end of the Chinese New Year. The Crystal Gardens will be come a Chinese marketplace with vendors, dancers, musicians and artists.
Family Lunar New Year Party
On February 20, 2015 from 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m., Cultural Care Au Pair and the Naperville Moms Network are hosting a free, fun-filled evening to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Kids can learn more about this important holiday that has been celebrated in many parts of Asia for centuries. The event features food, crafts, story time and games.
Chinese New Year Lightscape on State Street
From February 16 through March 5, stop by State Street (between Lake Street and Van Buren Street) to see light and sound installations in the street planter displays in the Loop. Enjoy the synchronized color patterns choreographed to music in celebration of the Chinese New Year.
2015 Chinese New Year Dumpling Making Dinner
For the past ten years, CCCI’s Chinese New Year Dumpling Making Dinner has been hosted by CCCI founder, Z.J. Tong. CCCI is dedicated to promoting Chinese culture in the Greater Chicago area. There will be story telling, dumpling making, authentic Chinese cuisine, and lots of surprises and fun. The event takes place on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at Hing Kee Restaurant (2140 S. Archer, Chicago) from 3:00-6:00 p.m.
Crafts and Activities:
The Chinese Zodiac calendar corresponds with one of 12 animals each year. The animals are supposed to predict what the year will be like. 2015 marks the year of the goat. The animals are supposed to align with personality traits, so people born during a year of the goat are considered to be dependable, intelligent, calm and charming. Help your kids find out what animal corresponds with their birth year. Find our your zodiac animal online.
As a part of Chinese New Year tradition, elders often give children “lucky money.” The money comes in red packets and intends to ward off evil spirits. Money can range from a few to thousands of Chinese Yuan. For a math lesson, you can teach your children about different currency. One U.S. dollar is worth a little over six Yuan.
The Dancing Dragon by Marcia K. Vaughan
Can’t get enough of the Chinese New Year parade? There are many great books to teach your kids about the Chinese New Year. Check out The Dancing Dragon about Chinese New Year traditions. This book tells the story of how the dragon arrives during the New Year’s parade. The Gift of Curiosity lists more than a dozen other great books to read too. To go along with the story, you can make dragon puppets too with these cool cutouts from Scholastic.
For a fun craft idea, you can even make your own paper lanterns, thanks to Enchanted Learning.
If you are looking for additional ideas, Cultural Care Au Pair has a great blog post with ideas for families looking for more craft and activity ideas around Lunar New Year. You can check it out here: http://aupairbuzz.