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Chinese New Year

Updated on June 29, 2015

A Unit Study for Homeschoolers

新年快乐 Happy Chinese New Year! Take your children on a fascinating cultural experience -- celebrate Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year is the celebration of a new lunar year. It is a fifteen day holiday that starts on the evening of the second new moon after the winter solstice. This is sometime in January or February each year. This holiday ends with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day.

In China, this holiday is also called Spring Festival 春节 Chun Jie since it marks the change in the weather from bitter cold to the coming of warmer weather.

The Chinese Zodiac

Year of the Tiger
Year of the Tiger

According to the lunar calendar, time operates in cycles of twelve years. Each year is represented by an animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. The lunar calendar even has a "leap lunar year" with an entire extra MONTH added in!

The lunar calendar is also considered a farmer's calendar since it is used to make decisions related to agriculture.

There is a folk story that explains how each animal was assigned to its year.

The animals were assembled for a race. The rat knew since he was such a small animal, he had no chance to win honestly. He conviced the ox to let him ride on his head. Just as they were about to arrive, the crafty rat jumped down and crossed the finish line as the winner.

This is why the year of the rat is the first year in the cycle and the year of the ox is the second.

A practical craft idea is to make a year calendar featuring the zodiac animal of that year at the top. Visit these school children's examples for inspiration.There are plenty of options for your yearly calendar graphic. Just explore some of these coloring page links:

Long-Long's New Year - A Story About The Chinese Spring Festival

Long-Long's New Year: A Story About the Chinese Spring Festival
Long-Long's New Year: A Story About the Chinese Spring Festival

This book is really special because it it set in China and not in an American Chinatown. A family celebrates the Spring Festival in a traditional way in this picture book.


The Color Red

The tradition is that when your zodiac year comes each twelve years, that is a special year; you should increase your good luck by wearing red everyday. Many people wear red underwear all year long!

The Story of the Chinese Zodiac

The Great Race
The Great Race

Ever wondered where the cycle of twelve animals came from? And why would the rat be first? This book explains the fun story behind the tradition.


Hong Bao -- Red Envelopes

Hong Bao -- Red Envelopes
Hong Bao -- Red Envelopes

Hong Bao -- Red Envelopes - lucky money

Making some 红包 hong bao -- literally red packets -- is a very authentic and easy craft for celebrating Chinese New Year.

At the Spring Festival, adults give children these red envelopes with gifts of cash tucked inside! (The bride and groom also receive these at their wedding.)

In English, they are sometimes also called lucky money. Make sure to use a lot of red. Gold or yellow is also popular on hong bao.

Sam and the Lucky Money

Sam and the Lucky Money
Sam and the Lucky Money

In this picture book, Sam struggles with how to spend his lucky money.


Celebrating Chinese New Year

Why do fish feature so predominantly in Chinese New Year's decorations?The Chinese word for fish 鱼 has the same sound as another word --余-- which means abundance. So eating fish on the New Year is a way to bring good luck or abundance to your family.

Make your own 3D paper fish with this wonderful template from Kiddy House. Use bright papers and string them around your home. Or connect them into a New Year's mobile.

Visit Childbook for some wonderful coloring pages that depict typical New Year's customs.

For a more indepth unit study, find one of these great activity and craft books.

Chinese New Year Cartoon Music Video

Watch this adorable video for some images of Chinese New Year. It has English translation across the top and Chinese characters across the bottom. The song is sung in Mandarin. The flag in the video is the Chinese flag.

Getting New Clothes for Chinese New Year

Getting New Clothes for Chinese New Year
Getting New Clothes for Chinese New Year

New Clothes -- A Chinese New Year Tradition

It is a tradition in China to buy new clothes when the new year comes. Parents buy new outfits for their children and for themselves.

Celebrate in your own way by making "new clothes" for some paper dolls.

Dui Lian -- Chinese Door Banners - sometimes called a distich

Chinese doors almost always bear decoration of some type. The (dui lian) are the set of banners hung above and to the sides of the door. They are always red and have a message of good luck or blessings of prosperity. Any door or gate can be decorated in this way -- even a pig stall or a barn.

Usually, it is at the Chinese New Year when new banners are pasted around the door.

Be sure to look at this beautiful painting done in traditional Chinese style that depicts a man preparing his dui lian at Spring Festival.

On the doors themselves you will find one of two things - either a door god as seen to the right or a single Chinese character fu 福 which means blessing. One fascinating feature of the fu 福 decoration is that it is always placed upside down. Why? This is a bit of a pun. The word for "upside down" sounds the same as the word that means "to arrive." So they take the blessing and turn it upside down to mean "blessings arrive." It's a way of inviting blessings to the home.

Make your own dui lian with long strips of paper. Make three - one for the top and one on each side. Use the template below for your fu 福 decoration.

Lanterns and Firecrackers

The Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival is a favorite for children. Many families give lanterns to the children who walk around outdoors showing them off. Other families set off fireworks and firecrackers. It's a wonderful evening of fun for young people and old.

Fu, a Chinese Character Meaning Blessing

Fu, a Chinese Character Meaning Blessing
Fu, a Chinese Character Meaning Blessing

Learn some Chinese characters for your unit study. The character fu 福--blessing or luck-- is a great place to start since it's a common decoration.

D is for Doufu: An Alphabet Book of Chinese Culture

D Is for Doufu: An Alphabet Book of Chinese Culture
D Is for Doufu: An Alphabet Book of Chinese Culture

This book is a great place to start a study of Chinese characters!


Other Printables - And Online Fun

These didn't fit neatly into another category, but are far too good to omit.


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    • EmmaCooper LM profile image

      EmmaCooper LM 5 years ago

      Cool lens - blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very cool lens

    • profile image

      EmergencyPrepar 5 years ago

      loved this lens :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very educational lens. Very nice work.

    • Adele Jeunette profile image

      Adele Jeunette 5 years ago

      A nice, thorough site.

    • iamraincrystal profile image

      Rosyel Sawali 5 years ago from Manila Philippines

      Xin Nian Kuai Le! Awesome lens ^_^

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @china newz: even before communism they used red. it is the color of luck

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 5 years ago from South Africa

      New year blessings x

    • china newz profile image

      china newz 5 years ago

      Cool Lense. Learned some things about Chinese culture didn't know. Wonder why red is such an important color. Must be from the communist flag.

    • McBub-Squidoo profile image

      McBub-Squidoo 6 years ago

      You are so great. You have a deep understanding on Chinese culture.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 6 years ago from Australia

      So funny - I am a Chinese Dragon (so this is my year) and red is my favourite colour. Am wearing it right now, but don't think even I have enough of it to wear everyday.

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 6 years ago

      There's a lot of information I didn't know, I knew that red symbolized prosperity though. Thanks for the interesting facts!

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 6 years ago

      Wonderful lens, it clearly explain how the Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year.

    • grflgrfl profile image

      grflgrfl 6 years ago

      The Chinese calendar is so confusing to Westerners! Sometimes I compare understanding the Chinese calendar to the Dark Ages when information was tightly controlled by an elite class only for the sake of control over the masses.

    • Tom Maybrier profile image

      Tom Maybrier 6 years ago

      gong hay fat choy! great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      gong xi, gong xi, gong xi ni ya

    • Egils Petersons profile image

      Egils Petersons 6 years ago from Latvia

      Very nice lens! I like! :)

    • bubblylittlepri profile image

      bubblylittlepri 7 years ago

      Hey, your lens make me look forward to the dragon year~great lens!

    • WebIsFun profile image

      WebIsFun 7 years ago

      Chinese new year is very fun!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is a great educational resource and I wish you a happy Chinese New Year too, in this Year of the Rabbit. And, in case that's not enough - here's a Cupid Kiss from a Squid Angel for Valentine's Day

    • Brookelorren LM profile image

      Brookelorren LM 7 years ago

      Happy Chinese New Year! Angel Blessings.

    • profile image

      truefaith7 lm 7 years ago

      Very good lens! This is a very informative lens about the Chinese New Year. I particularly enjoyed your description of the Dui Lian and Hong Bao. Keep up the good work!

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 7 years ago from US

      *Blessed by a squid angel*

    • reflectionhaiku profile image

      reflectionhaiku 7 years ago

      Most excellent & exciting lens on Chinese New Year- thumbs up and lensrolling. Thanks & Happy New Year to you!

    • profile image

      dragonlow 7 years ago

      Great lens with good info. Thanks for sharing.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

      You are a great teacher to us all

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 7 years ago from Iowa

      I enjoy the personality aspects of those born in the Chinese zodiac years. I of course was born in the year of the horse. Makes total sense to me. :) Wonderfully done lens.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I celebrate Chinese New Year as we are always in Asia. Great lens.

    • I-sparkle profile image

      I-sparkle 7 years ago

      Simply fascinating! The photography is beautiful. I am very interested in this culture. Looking forward to more of your lens on this subject!

    • ICanCook profile image

      ICanCook 7 years ago

      Very interesting lens. I'm calculating which year I will be wearing the red underwear.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Fun lens!

    • profile image

      the777group lm 7 years ago

      I love that picture in "lanterns & firecrackers". BTW I've lensrolled you on my Chinese Ads lens.

    • profile image

      scar4 7 years ago

      great lens. Just wondering where did you get the count down clock? it looks cool~

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      i need an example of a common distich(sorry if its spelt wrong)please.x

    • profile image

      crystaljewels 8 years ago

      I add your lens to my Chinese New Year lensroll

    • profile image

      crystaljewels 8 years ago

      This lens is very well done, full of details and beautiful pictures.

      I live in China and today is the first day of the Chinese New Year, that's why i just publish my new lens concerning Rituals and how chinese celebrate it. You can have a look here :

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 8 years ago from Western Mass

      happy new year! :)

    • profile image

      JMoralde 8 years ago

      very niiiiice!!!

    • monarch13 profile image

      monarch13 8 years ago

      Thanks for the update!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 8 years ago from New York

      I just love this lens Jimmie. It brings back such fond childhood memories. We always celebrating Chinese New Year in Hawaii and when I was a child it was such a magical time! The Chinese people in Honolulu's Chinatown treated all of us kids VERY well by giving us Chinese treats and gold chocolate coins! We were allowed free reign in the shops and in the streets, which NEVER was allowed at any other time. The dragon dance and fireworks added to the excitement that was in air, which was thick with smoke from the fireworks, lanterns and incense. We would eat so much food, and play so hard that by the time we got home at night we fell asleep immediately from sheer exhaustion.

      % stars for you for a very well done lens!

    • Sandrastevens LM profile image

      Sandrastevens LM 8 years ago

      Just a few days away!... awesome lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      nice sharing.

      i'd like to know how can you insert Chinese character in the text. when i doing that, it shows as unrecognizable code

    • drs2biz lm profile image

      David Schroeter 8 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      A great lens as usual, Jimmie. Happy New Year for Year of the Tiger!

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 8 years ago

      Great lens! I am lensrolling to my year of the dog lens!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 8 years ago from UK

      What an informative and entertaining lens - for adults as well as homeschoolers! :)

    • profile image

      scar4 8 years ago

      The year of tiger is coming, and the 2010 tiger year is very special 'cause the start of the 2010 New Year falls on Sunday, February 14, which is also the Valentine's Day according to the Western calendar, making it a doubly auspicious day to celebrate in the both West and East. Now we shall have a plan to celebrate this special day.

    • MandMx profile image

      MandMx 8 years ago

      Great site. Can't wait to eat dumplings on Chinese New Year!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 8 years ago from Royalton

      Welcome to the Back to School Group Lensography.

    • profile image

      tifire 8 years ago

      Great write about Chinese New Year. Year of Tiger is coming in half a year~~

    • Janet2221 profile image

      Janet2221 9 years ago

      Another great lens, Jimmie! Lensrolled to my Kai Lan lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Thanks there was a lot of great tips that were helpful to me. great lens!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Floraluniverses 9 years ago

      So interesting...Fantastic lens!! I specially like the links under the Chinese Characters module. 5*!!

      Thank you so much for visiting my "Tulips Photography ... and More" lens.

    • papawu profile image

      papawu 9 years ago

      Being Korean, I have a deep affinity for subjects on Asian culture. It always gladdens my heart when people take a sincere interest in learning about Asian history, culture, and customs. I truly believe that children to be taught World History and culture at a young age because this would help bridge the culture gaps and give them the advantage of insight in their later years.Wonderfu lens.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 9 years ago from Royalton

      Another inspirational lens!

      One year we went to China Town in Boston for Chinese New Year's. There are various coins, papers, and decorations for sale at very reasonable prices that can be used for art, math and cultural projects. We found the people in the shops very willing to explain how each one is used in their culture.

      Thank you for putting together such a valuable resource.

    • SilverLotus1 profile image

      SilverLotus1 9 years ago

      Beautiful lens, and informative too. From one whose sign is the dragon......

    • profile image

      ClassroomCanada 9 years ago

      Love this lens! Thanks for sharing. Love your ideas too!

    • profile image

      Smartshops 9 years ago

      Great lens with lots of information! 5*s from your friends at Smartshops!

    • profile image

      Andy-Po 9 years ago

      Excellent lens. Very interesting

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Thanks so much Jimmie. I visit your lenses whenever I need inspiration and ideas. I so appreciate you.

    • sittonbull profile image

      sittonbull 9 years ago

      Very interesting and informative. China has an enormous impact on our everyday lives, so it stands to reason that we need to learn as much as we can absorb of their culture. 5***** and favored.

    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 9 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Ni hao! Gung hee fat choi! Shin nien hao! Howdy and Happy New Year! This is an excellent lens. Great information... definite 5* ... I'm linking to you from my Hong Kong and Kowloon lenses!

    • YuanHao profile image

      YuanHao 9 years ago

      The year of my ox = my year! It's almost New Year, I'm happy that it's my year but at the same time sad that I'll have to wait 12 more years for it to happen again. Wonder what will happen in such a long timespan?

      Nice lens, definitely the best food comes with the Chinese New Year :)

    • TimeHacker profile image

      TimeHacker 9 years ago

      Very nice and informative lens, 5* to you :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      A wonderful treasure of information Jimmie. Whether you are homeschooling or teaching in a classroom, there are plenty of terrific ideas here. Thanks.

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 9 years ago

      Loved it as always Jimmie. I have sent this link to my fellow homeschooling friends as I know that they enjoy your stuff too!

    • Sarunas profile image

      Sarunas 9 years ago

      Was interesting to read. Thanks for this lens.

      Also I gave you 5*.

      Have a nice day.

    • singaporehosting profile image

      singaporehosting 9 years ago

      Wan Shi Ru Yi! Fantastic Lenses!

    • profile image

      kathieleeb 9 years ago

      awesome lens!

    • profile image

      Andy-Po 9 years ago

      Excellent, informative lens.

    • PattB LM profile image

      PattB LM 9 years ago

      Great lens. I heard somewhere that the Chinese also clear away all their debts and clean every nook and cranny of their homes for Chinese New Year. I don't know if that is true, but I keep it in mind for inspiration!

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 9 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      [in reply to Lotusland] Xin Nian Kuai Le!

      (I don't speak Cantonese, just Mandarin.)

    • Lotusland profile image

      Lotusland 9 years ago

      Gung Hay Fat Choi

    • profile image

      thesolowriter 9 years ago

      this is the most eye-catching lens I've seen so far. I'm still a Newbie, but I've already viewed a few lenses and this one makes me feel HAPPY to simply scan it, much less give it the focus it begs for. LOVE it!

      A China Fan,


    • profile image

      LKoehne 9 years ago

      Really fun and informative! I'm planning a Chinese New Year party for my 5 year old and her friends and this gives me all kinds of good ideas. Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      lovely lens. i love some chinese food like sushi. And I would like to experience Chinese new year! i think it would be great. And congratulations!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Thanks for putting this squidoo page together! We will be studying the Chinese New Year and this will be SO helpful!

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 9 years ago

      Congratulations on your Lens awards!!! You really deserve them!!! :) Btw... I lensrolled this lens onto my Chinese New Year lapbook lens. 5*

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 9 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      [in reply to JaguarJulie] Thanks so much!

    • mobleyj profile image

      mobleyj 9 years ago

      Great Lens. It is packed with information on chinese culture and heritage.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Congratulations on your win :)

    • profile image

      ThomasC 9 years ago

      Congratulations on your Giant Squid 2008 Award! Awesome lens!


    • profile image

      julieannbrady 9 years ago

      Congratulations Jimmie on winning the Best Holiday Lens in the 2008 Giant Squid Awards. Wow how cool -- another top winning lens. ;)

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 9 years ago from USA

      Congratulations for winning the 2008 Best holiday Lens award!

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 9 years ago from USA

      This is a wonderful lens full of fun and information.

    • profile image

      Joan4 9 years ago

      Oh, our 6 y/o granddaughter is studying cultures. She will love this one! Thank you! and Congratulations on Best Holiday Lens in the 2008 Giant Squid Awards!

    • greenerme profile image

      greenerme 9 years ago

      Congratulations on your Giant Squid Awards nomination! Good luck, this lens looks excellent!

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 9 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Blessings and a Giant Squid Awards vote for this fabulous lens! :)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      Gorgeous lens! We get our Chinese New Year's shirts in Chinatown (in downtown L.A.) just a few miles from where we live. Congratulations on your Giant Squid Awards nomination.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 9 years ago from Minnesota

      Excellent lens...I learned a lot. Five stars for you. Congrats on your GS Awards nomination!

    • mistyblue75605 lm profile image

      mistyblue75605 lm 9 years ago

      Great lens for my oldest son to read and learn.... thanks! 5*

    • profile image

      China_Highlights1 9 years ago

      This is a great lens. Very colorful. I'll favorite it. I especially like the counting down clock.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 9 years ago from Canada

      Those Flickr photos are great! We used to celebrate the Chinese New Year when the boys were young and they loved it. We'll have to revisit it this year.


    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 9 years ago

      Jam-packed with info and oh so very colorful! 5 *'s for sure. Congrats on your 2008 Giant Squid nomination...woot! (

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Congratulations on your 2008 Giant Squid Awards nomination and good luck! - Kathy aka "Pretty Bullet"

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Fascinating, just fascinating! Such an interesting, informative and pretty lens! - Kathy

    • profile image

      thereviewerguy 9 years ago

      Hi there, your Lens stirred up memories of my Chinese teacher who wore yellow on the first day of Chinese New Year. He was laughed at by his students, but I loved his fluoro-yellow shirt!

      For those looking for a reason to learn Chinese, I've compiled a list of ten at Learn Chinese Blog. Good luck with your Lens, it's packed with info!

    • carterboylston lm profile image

      carterboylston lm 9 years ago

      I love this lens so much! I had a great time being in China for Chinese New Year and I ended up learning so much about the culture because of it. I can't wait to experience it again.

    • profile image

      akrause2112 10 years ago

      Thank you for adding this wonderful lens to the BIG LENSES Group!


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