The Year of the Rabbit

Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year! 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The Chinese Lunar New Year is on February 3rd this year. If you’re considering celebrating this year’s Chinese New Year for the first time, there are many web sites to guide you on decorations, food, activities, and crafts, and to learn how the day is determined.The libraries have several titles to lend for your family to discover the cultural traditions of the Lunar New Year. There are also a variety of supplemental social study curriculums that take a closer look at these traditions, superstitions and customary foods from Asian countries.

SUPERSTITIONS

The Lunar New Year is full of superstitions. Cutting your noodles on this day is said to shorten your life, and cleaning your home the day of the Lunar New Year is a big no-no, for it’s customary to clean in the days prior. Discovering these superstitions can lead to an exploration of their history with your children; opening up discussions on why they originated.

TRADITIONAL FOODS & DECORATIONS

There are many traditional foods you can serve on this day, or popular dishes from your local Chinese restaurant, along with a New Year’s Cake (Neen Gow) and fortune cookies. Decorating your home with paper lanterns, colorful dragons, Red Couplets, bowls or oranges and arrangements of flowers can be fun too.

LENGTH OF CELEBRATION

The Lunar and Chinese New Year can be celebrated for up to 15 days, depending on the culture that is in observance. The Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days (from the first full moon to the next new moon), but the Vietnamese Lunar New Year is celebrated for only half that time. A single evening of celebration to discover more about this culture is perfectly okay too.

SUGGESTED READINGS AVAILABLE THROUGH YOUR LOCAL MA LIBRARY

Everybody Cooks Rice (By Norah Dooley)
A child is sent to find a younger brother at dinnertime and is introduced to a variety of cultures through encountering the many different ways rice is prepared at the different households visited.

Lion Dancer : Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year (By K. Waters & M. Slovenz-Low)
Describes six-year-old Ernie Wong’s preparations, at home and in school, for the Chinese New Year celebrations and his first public performance of the lion dance.

Look What Came from China (By Miles Harvey)
Describes many things, both familiar and unfamiliar, that originally came from China, including inventions, food, tools, animals, toys, games, musical instruments, fashion, medicine, holidays, and sports.

Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes (By Nina Simonds and Leslie Swartz)
A great book that gives reviews the history of and supplies recipes, crafts and legends of five different Chinese holidays, including: Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival, Qing Ming, the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.

China (DK Eyewitness Books) (by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore)
I love Eyewitness Books!  Their China book takes a look at Chinese culture with “eye-popping” images!

The Wishing Tree (By R. Thong)
Ming’s wishes at the tree on Lunar New Year with his grandmother always seemed to come true, but one year the tree does not help, and he alone must make peace with the loss of his grandmother and the spirit of the tree.

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