Chinese New Year: An Expat’s Experience {MKB Chinese New Year Series 2015}

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This week is all about upcoming Chinese New Year! I have recently published a craft activity – Chinese New Year Card; and I have one more post coming up to review a great CD I got from Little Mandarin! So stay tuned!
Today’s post is a part of MKB Chinese New Year series which started in January and is going to end right about the Lantern Festival in March. 
I have already shared with you on celebration of Chinese New Year here in Zhuhai and Hong Kong and Macau. 
Today I just wanted to talk a little more about the importance of Chinese New Year (or rather known as Spring Festival) to Chinese people. 
This Festival has been celebrated in China for over 4000 years. And needless to say, it is a very old holiday which is especially treasured here. 
There are many different things people do for CNY decorations and food wise. And those vary from province to province and get changed and altered with time. However, 2 traditions that never change are cleaning before CNY and gathering with the family.
Cleaning wise it gets absolutely crazy here: roads are renovated, malls get thorough cleaning, schools and offices get places cleaned that haven’t been cleaned for year. And besides, everyone puts around gorgeous decorations: lanterns, stickers on their doors and hanging decorations on trees and gates. Beautiful statues are made, flowers are planted. 

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Family gatherings are really something: the whole day on CNY eve everyone cooks and cooks and cooks. Families finally sit down for a meal around 6-6.30 and you would be surprised at the number of dishes. In general, in China people make and order more food than they can eat. But apparently, it comes from the times of hunger and having a lot of food on the table, no matter how simple, is a sign of prosperity and generosity. The picture below is not from CNY, but just a small example of some things you would see on a typical Chinese table.

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After the meal, families usually watch TV shows, share stories, have snacks (fruit, seeds, dried eatables, like cookies and nuts). Around 8-9pm everyone goes out to play with firecrackers. It gets awfully noisy but very beautiful as the dark skies are lighted with gorgeous firework designs.
After 14 years in China, observing people during CNY, I can’t say too much changed: it is always the same pre-new year rush for shopping and gifts (traditional gifts are fruit baskets, seeds, nuts, special cookies, sometimes alcohol and red clothes; also, if you are born on that particular year – as in, if it is your Chinese Zodiac year – you have to wear red undergarments for CNY to bring yourself and your family luck!). And it is the same happiness and joy: people around here work hard and they only get to see their families once or twice a year. Some migrant workers leave their children back in their hometown so for them CNY is especially important as they get to see their little ones. 
If you ask me, out of the traditional holidays, I prefer CNY  as compared to NY and Christmas  –  it is just so colorful and special.
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Chinese New Year | Multicultural Kid Blogs
This post is part of the Chinese New Year series and giveaway on Multicultural Kid Blogs. Enter our giveaway to win one of these great prize packages, and don’t forget to link up your own posts about Chinese New Year on our main page!
Giveaway begins Jan. 21 and goes through midnight ET on March 5, 2015. Enter below for a chance to win! Remember you can make a comment on the blog post of a different co-host each day for an additional entry.
First Prize Package
All About China
From Tuttle Publishing, All About China: Take the whole family on a whirlwind tour of Chinese history and culture with this delightfully illustrated book that is packed with stories, activities and games. Travel from the stone age through the dynasties to the present day with songs and crafts for kids that will teach them about Chinese language and the Chinese way of life.
Long-Long's New Year
Also from Tuttle Publishing, Long-Long’s New Year, a beautifully illustrated picture book about a little Chinese boy named Long-Long, who accompanies his grandfather into the city to sell cabbages in order to buy food and decorations for the New Year. Selling cabbages is harder than Long-Long expects, and he encounters many adventures before he finds a way to help his grandfather, and earn New Year’s treats for his mother and little cousin.
A Little Mandarin
From A Little Mandarin, a CD featuring a collection of Chinese children’s classics – songs loved by families in China for generations – given new life with a contemporary sound and voice. The 15 tracks fuse rock, pop, dance, ska, and hip hop influences with playful lyrics to make it a unique and fun learning companion for all ages. Featured on Putumayo Kids Presents World Sing-Along.
Second Prize Package
US shipping only
Celebrating the Chinese New Year
From Tuttle Publishing, Celebrating the Chinese New Year, in which Little Mei’s grandfather tells her the stories of Nian and the monster Xi for Chinese New Year.
The Sheep Beauty
Also from Tuttle Publishing, The Sheep Beauty, which brings to life the kindness and generosity of those born under the sign of the sheep in the Chinese zodiac.
Chinese Zodiac Animals
Also from Tuttle Publishing, Chinese Zodiac Animals, a fun and informative way to learn about the ancient Chinese Zodiac, explaining the traits of each animal sign and what luck the future might hold for the person born under that sign.
Monkey Drum
From Tiny Tapping Toes, a monkey drum, plus a free pdf of a craft version. World Music children’s performer DARIA has spent the last two decades performing in the USA and around the world, creating music to inspire all the world’s children and allowing children to become a part of the celebration and the fun of exploring world cultures.
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Child-Made Christmas Lanterns

I am happy to participate in and be one of the first to post for 20 Days of a Kid-Made Christmas Ornaments Project, hosted by some of the amazing bloggers from KBN (Kid Blogger Network).

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Living in China where Christmas has become a big deal (while not being an official holiday) and being an ESL teacher, over the past 20 years I’ve taught and made tons of Christmas crafts. I usually try to find something easy and fun for children to make. So, today I am introducing a Christmas Lantern to you! (This lantern is a great decoration for Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival too!)

lantern

What you will need:

2 paper cups

Double-sided tape

Crafting ribbon

Crepe paper

Paint (for finger prints decoration)

How to make it:

1. Put to cups together and secure them with a double-sided tape.

2. Take the paper off the tape and stick the ribbon over it.

3. Using pieces of double-sided tape and a smaller piece of ribbon, make a handle that the lantern will hang on.

4. Apply another round of double sided take on the bottom of the lantern. Tear crepe paper into strips. Take the paper off the double-sided tape and stick the strips of crepe paper over so that they hang down.lantern1

5. Using paint, have children decorate the lanterns with finger prints. This is probably the most fun they get while making this lantern!

6. Dry and decorate the tree or your house with the lanterns (be careful though to keep them away from Christmas lights!)

 lantern2

 What are your favorite Christmas ornaments? Do you prefer making them or buying?

20daysofakidmadechristmasPIN

Would you like to join in on the fun too?!

Here’s how:

  1. Go to the landing page here, for this series that Melissa at Mama Miss is hosting.
  2. Just link a KID-MADE ornament you’ve created with your kiddos (limited to 2 a day).
  3. Add this pretty little ornament shaped button below to your blog post, or your sidebar, or somewhere on your beautiful blog letting me know you are joining in on the fun too!!
  4. Label the ornament button: 20 Days of a Kid-Made Christmas: Ornaments
  5. Link the ornament button to: the landing page for this series.

 

20 Days of a Kid-Made Christmas: Ornaments

 

The link up will be open from December 1st until December 21st for all entries.

Make sure to pop by these other fabulous bloggers too, that are participating in this series…

December 1st

Mama Miss

Here Come the Girls

Creative World of Varya

December 2nd

Housing A Forest

NurtureStore

December 3rd

Twodaloo

Crystal’s Tiny Treasures

Play Trains!

December 4th

Mama Smiles

One Perfect Day

December 5th

Feels Like Home

How Wee Learn

December 6th

My Little 3 and Me

The House of Hendrix

Teach Beside Me

December 7th

The Connection We Share

Scribble Doodle and Draw

FSPDT

December 8th

The Library Adventure

Something 2 Offer

Learn with Play at Home

December 9th

The Pleasantest Thing

Tutus & Tea Parties

Edventures with Kids

December 10th

Nothing if Not Intentional

Kitchen Counter Chronicles

Me & Marie Learning

December 11th

Glittering Muffins

Child Central Station

Happiness is Homemade

December 12th

eLeMeNO-P Kids

Coffee Cups and Crayons

Living Montessori Now

December 13th

Teach me Mommy

Mum in The Mad House

The Craft Train

December 14th

Mama.Papa.Bubba.

MeMeTales

Imprints From Tricia

December 15th

True Aim Education

Sugar Aunts

The Life of Jennifer Dawn

December 16th

Powerful Mothering

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

The Eyes of a Boy

December 17th

Teach Preschool

Plain Vanilla Mom

Lalymom

December 18th

P is for Preschooler

Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes

Busy Kids = Happy Mom

December 19th

Mama Miss

Glittering Muffins

December 20th

Tips From a Typical Mom

Rockabye Butterfly

Creative Tuesday: Fortune cookies

In the spirit of the Spring Festival we made Fortune Cookies with my Mom & Tot group. 

You may be surprised but Fortune Cookies are not native to China itself. They were made up by the early immigrants from China to the United States. They are usually given at the end of the meal in Chinese restaurants in the USA, the person breaks them and finds a message that contains a prediction or a good luck wish.

To make it more appealing to children we used the basic recipe for sugar cookies . Parents helped children write the wishes and they put them into the cookies. 

 

We baked them and exchanged! They were yummy and we got to read out loud the wishes for the upcoming Spring Festival!


Spring Festival – The New Year of China

In the Spirit of The Chinese New Year, also known as The Spring Festival, I would like to share a few pictures from around Zhuhai – some decoration.

You will notice some pictures have tangerine trees. Buying and keeping  tangerine tree is supposed to bring luck to the family. People also tie money bags or money envelopes to them (some just put empty ones, some put a 1 yuan note inside). 

Children and unmarried young people get “lucky money” (red envelopes with some money inside). Everyone gets at least 1 week off work or more. Firecrackers can be heard from a week before the Spring Festival, throughout the first week after – and 2 weeks after during the Lantern Festival

Everything gets decorated, houses are thoroughly cleaned, new clothes are bought. If you are born under the current animal (Chinese Zodiac that corresponds to the Year coming), you have to wear red underclothes during the actual day of the Spring Festival and some wear during whole year for good luck.

If you are looking for a simple activity for Chinese New Year, visit this post I made – Chinese New Year Snake Craft. It is super easy and suitable for different age groups!

I wish you all a lovely Spring Festival (if you are celebrating) and a wonderful Year of the Snake ahead!

This post is a part of participation in Winter Wonderland Blog Hop!

Stop by these wonderful blogs to enjoy winter activities around the world!!!

The Iowa Farmer’s Wife – B-Inspired Mama – Kid World Citizen – Love Play Learn – Home Learning Journey – KC Edventures – Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails –Milk and Cuddles – Putti’s World – Nurture Store – Creative Playhouse – Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas – Teach Preschool – This Reading Mama – Housing A Forest – Royal Baloo – Two Big Two Little – Ready Set Read – CraftoArt – The Outlaw Mom Blog – JDaniel4s Mom – Creative Family Fun –Kitchen Counter Chronicles – Caution! Twins at Play – Enchanted Homeschooling Mom – Blog Me Mom – Mama Miss – Living Montessori Now – Ingles 360 – Glittering Muffins –The Pleasantest Thing – Here Come the Girls – 3 Dinosaurs – Train Up a Child – Little Artists –The Chirping Moms – My Nearest and Dearest