Do you think it is fun to celebrate someone else’s cultural festivities? Why or why not?
3. Introduce the art activity:
Making Chinese Lanterns and Dancing Dragons .
a. Show the students your completed art products.
Tell the students that these art projects represent some of the creative projects the Chinese make in anticipation of their Chinese New Year celebration.
b. Allow each student to select to make one or both of the art products.
c. Then, ask the students to take a seat in a semi-circle around the table-booth or puppet theater you set up for them.
4. Ask for 4 volunteers to READ the skit parts: TRACE, GAIL, JESSIE and CONNIE
(NOTE: The readers will be expected to read at a 3rd grade or higher level. If reading is a problem for your age group of children, assign 2 readers per part or ask an older child to assist a younger child with his or her part. You can also allow very young readers to ‘act out’ the parts with the characters while you read all the parts. Or, simply substitute a scenario about the Chinese New Year without the skit that follows.)
CONNIE CELEBRATES THE CHINESE NEW YEAR…You’re Invited!
CONNIE: Hi everyone! Would you all like to celebrate the Chinese New Year with me?
GAIL, TRACE, JESSIE: (All together) YES! We would love to!
GAIL: But hey, Connie, what is the Chinese New Year?
CONNIE: I’m glad you asked me that, Gail.
JESSIE: Well, I want to know too.
TRACE: Yeah Connie, me too!
CONNIE: OK guys. I’m happy to ‘tell all.’
Remember, this is a really important celebration for my family. We prepare months in advance for it and really look forward to the celebration each year.
The Chinese New Year starts with the first New Moon of a New Year and ends with the FULL MOON 15 days later. So, we celebrate the Chinese New Year for 2 entire weeks plus one day.
TRACE: You mean, your new year starts with a new moon…like the moon in the sky?
CONNIE: Yes Trace. You know that the moon has complete cycles, right?
TRACE: Well, of course, I knew that!
JESSIE: (whispering) How did you know that!
CONNIE: So, my family celebrates the Chinese New Year according to what is called the Lunar Year which means ‘moon year’. This celebration is considered a way to get rid of the old year and celebrate the new one with great thoughts, prayers and happy times.
GAIL: So, Connie, what is it that you do for an entire 15 days to celebrate?
CONNIE: Actually, Gail, that is a good question. It is still a little confusing to me to keep all those days straight. Let me give you an overview:
New Years Eve — We celebrate family and our ancestors on this day. The Chinese believe that it is our ancestors who ‘laid-the-foundation’ for our family as we know it today.
New Years Day — We usually have a feast. You may call it a Thanksgiving feast that includes our family and what we are thankful for. On this day, many Chinese do not eat meat because they believe it will make them live longer and be healthy to do without it.
JESSIE: In America, on New Years day, many people eat black-eyed peas for good luck. Isn’t that strange? Well, at least we all have that no-meat thing in common so far…
CONNIE: I never thought of that…you’re right. Ok, let me go on.
2nd day — Dog day. I know, this sounds strange but we do lots of praying and are thankful for dogs, because the Chinese believe that the 2nd day is all dog’s birthday. Don’t ask…..
TRACE: Can I laugh out loud?
GAIL: Don’t be rude, Trace. I think all dogs should have a day too!
3rd Day and 4th Day — These days are the days all sons-in-law pay respect to their wives families.
5th Day — This day is called, “Po Woo.” This is the day everyone stays home in anticipation of welcoming wealth into their house. No one visits each other or leaves their house because this will bring bad luck to both people. I call it a day of rest!
6th Day through 10th Day — This is the time of family feasting and fun. We go to temples, get together with lots of relatives and celebrate by enjoying our family.
11th Day through 12th Day — We invite friends to dinner and share our wealth.
13th Day — We spend time eating very simple food because all those dinners have become too much.
14th Day — We plan for our last big day by making lanterns and parade floats, streamers and dragons. We really look forward to this final day of celebration.
15th Day — This is Lantern Festival day. It is a festival with singing, lantern shows and dancing.
JESSIE: Wow, Connie. That is some celebration!
CONNIE: Yes. And we spend a lot of time getting ready for it.
GAIL: Well, what do you eat?
CONNIE: Another good question, Gail.
As you have probably realized, we believe most of the things you eat and serve, as well as what you do each day, will have special meaning at this time of year and all year long. So, here are a few things we always have to eat during the New Year festivities: