The Chinese New Year celebrates family and hope for prosperity. Many families gather and give gifts of lucky money tucked inside red envelops and take their family portraits. Many celebrations include lion dances, or dragon dances. This tradition is believed to expel evil spirits and bad fortune. Celebrants even wear red clothing to attract good fortune. There are so many different customs to this two week celebration we couldn’t fit it all in. My girls seemed the most interested in dragons and red lanterns. So, we focused on those to start.
At Christmas I gave each of the girls a new book every night as we counted down to Christmas Day. I usually rummage through garage and library sales to find gently used, inexpensive books. This time, I ordered a few books from Barefoot Books simply because I love the quality in both the writing and illustrations. One of our new favorite books to read (and inspiration for this post) is Lin Yi’s Lantern.
It shares the story of a little boy getting ready for the moon festival and his desire to carry a red rabbit lantern. I love this book because it has a great story, some folklore and includes a craft idea at the end of the book!
We found these dragon coloring pages on Pintrest. Just color, cut and paste to a craft stick or back of a paper plate to make a mask.
Here is what you will need to make your own red lanterns:
- Red Paper
- Gold Paint or markers
- Chinese food take out menu (all this talk about Chinese culture made me hungry)
I let the kids go to town with the dot paints and make their lanterns their own. Once the paint is try simply fold paper length wise, then cut a straight line stopping about 2 inches before the edge of the paper. Repeat about 7 times (depending on how thick you make your cutting lines). Open the lantern and roll it until the ends touch. Tape the ends together. You can make a handle by cutting another strip and taping it to the top.
The girls wanted the lanterns to really light up, so I added some glow sticks. We turned out the lights and carried them in our own little parade and danced like dragons. Now where is that Chinese take out menu?
You can read more about Chinese New Year and the lantern festival here.