Happy Chinese New Year---the year of the Rat. Here is a quick explanation about Chinese New Year & some great craft ideas for your kids courtesy of www.littlepinkfeet.com, a great newsletter for families.
CHINESE NEW YEAR
The Chinese year 4706 begins on February 7, 2008.
In Chinese culture, the Chinese New Year is the most important holiday on a 4,000-year-old calendar. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. In China, people may take weeks to prepare for and celebrate the New Year. Chinese New Year's Eve is known as Chúxī ~ Chu means "change" and xi means "Eve". Chinese months are reckoned by the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day. New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month with the New Moon and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest (full moon). The 15th day of the New Year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated with lantern displays and parades at night. San Diego has been celebrating Chinese New Year since its first Chinese immigrants settled this port city in the late 1860s.
RED PACKET (ENVELOPE)
In China, red is associated with success, fortune, and happiness. A Red Packet (Red Envelope) is a red envelope decorated with lucky symbols with money in it~ “Lucky money.” They are given to the younger generations during Chinese New Year. Your children can give their craft envelope to family and friends.
Red craft foam or red construction paper, roughly 6” x 8”
Gold craft pen
Green construction paper (or real dollar or monopoly dollar)
Chinese characters – see about.com for a few ideas - http://chineseculture.about.com/library//picks/aatp_luckysymbols.htm
From the 8” side of the rectangular piece of red paper or foam, fold the bottom up about 1” and glue in place. Fold one of the 6” sides toward the center and fold the other side over the top of that fold. Glue the sides and leave an opening the width of a dollar bill. Use gold craft pen to draw on lucky Chinese symbols. Once the envelope has completely dried, insert a real dollar bill, monopoly dollar or cut out a pretend one from green construction paper.
Because the plum blossom is one of the few flowers that will bloom in the winter, they are a Chinese symbol for strength, courage and hope.
Brown chenille pipe cleaners – cut into unequal lengths
Pink tissue paper - cut into ½ to one inch squares
White craft glue
Small paint brush
Cut the Styrofoam ball in half and paint one of the halves brown (you can paint both halves brown and make two plum blossom arrangements). Put aside and let dry. Twist two unequal lengths of the chenille pipe cleaners together to make them look like branches. Continue until there are a few branches connected to the stem. Place the tip of the paintbrush into the center of a tissue paper square and twist the tissue paper around the handle to resemble a flower bud. While tissue paper is still on the end of the paintbrush handle, dot a bit of white glue to the base of the bud and stick it to the branch. Continue the process until the branches are dotted with beautiful pink flowers. Put aside and let dry. Once the paint on the Styrofoam ball and the glue on the branches have dried, insert the branches into the Styrofoam ball.
Fire, which according to Chinese legend, can drive away bad luck. Long ago, people in China lit bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil spirits. Today, the Chinese use fireworks to celebrate many holidays. This craft does not involve fire and is fun and safe! ;)
Black, dark purple or dark brown construction paper
Glitter – variety of colors
Spread glue on the paper in star burst shapes – big, small, many sizes. Sprinkle glitter onto the glue. Shake off excess glitter. Repeat with a variety of colors. Let dry and display.
Colored paper (construction paper or colored copy paper)
Glue or tape
String or yarn
Fold a rectangular piece of paper in half lengthwise to make a thin rectangle. Make about 12 evenly spaced cuts along the fold line (Cut about 2/3 to edge). Unfold the paper. Glue or tape the short edges of the paper together making the body of the lantern. To make the handle of the lantern, cut a strip of paper 4 to 6 inches long and 1/2 inch wide and glue (or tape) the strip one end of the lantern. You could make a variety of colors, string them along yarn or string and decorate the house.