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Three ways to celebrate Chinese New Year with students and colleagues

Are you wondering how you might celebrate Chinese New Year with students and colleagues? The Year of the Tiger begins February 1, 2022, and typically, celebrations last from New Year’s Eve through the Lantern Festival. Sharing and celebrating Chinese New Year with your school community can be a great opportunity to show off one’s cultural heritage and foster global understanding. Here are three ways you can honor and celebrate Chinese New Year with students and colleagues in the weeks to come.

Celebrate with a school-wide “Wear Red” day

Red is an important color during Chinese New Year celebrations. It represents auspiciousness, or luck and good fortune. In the legend of Nian, the monster that appears each New Years’ Eve, the color red inspires fear in the beast and drives him away (along with fireworks and loud sounds, of course!). As a result, it’s tradition to wear red and hang red paper lanterns in windows during the holiday.

Introduce the story of Nian and the significance of the color red to your students. Ask your administrator if it is possible to have a schoolwide “Wear Red” day, or incorporate a pop of red into an existing dress code during the week of Chinese New Year. Introduce it to the school by sharing your “why” by explaining the significance of wearing the color during the morning announcements. This is a great way for students throughout your school to play a part in celebrating Chinese New Year, even if they are not in a Mandarin dual language program!

Celebrate from Lunar New Year to Lantern Festival

Did you know that the Lunar New Year is celebrated for almost two weeks, beginning with New Year’s Day and ending with the Lantern Festival? The Lantern Festival, also called Shangyuan Festival, is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the Chinese calendar. This means there is plenty of time to incorporate the traditions of the holiday into your classroom.

Some ideas include creating and decorating traditional banners, learning the vocabulary and meaning of typical New Year symbols, and practicing greetings. Students often enjoy exploring the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Lastly, creating paper lanterns is a simple craft you could do as a class. Consider spacing out your activities so that students can get a true sense of the scale and importance of the holiday for people of Chinese descent.

Celebrate through regional cuisine

During important holidays, each culture and community has its traditional foods. In the United States, the Thanksgiving meal is known for its roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and green bean casserole. A large family meal is often served on Chinese New Year’s Eve, too, but the variety of cuisine changes based on geographical region. The traditional dishes often have special meaning attached to them, usually due to homophonic puns based on the pronunciation of characters.

Why not introduce colleagues to the tradition of hot pot, or huo guo, a fun and festive meal typical for celebrations? Alternatively, consider showing students how to make dumplings through a cooking class over Zoom or sharing instructions and recipes. Explaining the meaning of the dish as you teach can help them learn about the rich food traditions.

For more ideas about how our Ambassador Teachers incorporate traditions into their classroom celebrations of Chinese New Year visit this blog post. Learn more about our Mandarin immersion programs here. How will you be celebrating Chinese New Year? Let us know by tagging us in your celebrations on Twitter @participatelearning.

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