Talk to Your Kids About Chinese New Year
WHAT TO SAY
The Chinese New Year is celebrated on the first day of the First Moon of the lunar calendar, and can occur any time between January 22nd and February 19th, depending on the year. Chinese communities around the world traditionally celebrate the Chinese New Year with a two-week festival. (It's the most colorful and important of all Chinese festivals.)
2006, for example, was the Year of the Dog. According to the Chinese Zodiac, people born in the Year of the Dog are honest and thoughtful to those they love, although they can also be somewhat eccentric and very stubborn at times!
In the Chinese cycle of years, Twelve animals are recognized as having the characteristics of specific years: 1) rat, 2) ox, 3) tiger, 4) rabbit, 5) dragon, 6) snake, 7) horse, 8) goat 9) monkey, 10) rooster, 11) dog, 12) pig.
Here's an ancient legend about the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac that you can share with your kids:
Long ago, the 12 animals had a quarrel about who was going to be the leader in the cycle of years. To settle the argument, the 12 animals held a contest by a riverbank. The first animal to reach the other side of the river would be the leader, and the rest would receive their years according to when they finished the race.
All of the animals jumped in the river at once and began to swim across. The big, strong ox was in the lead, but the clever rat jumped up on his back. Just as the ox was about to climb onshore, the rat jumped off and won the race. The pig was the laziest of the animals, and so, he got to the other side last. And that is why, in the Chinese cycle of years, the rat is the first year cycle, the ox second, and the pig last!
FOLLOW UP FUN
* Check your local paper to find Chinese celebrations or parades that your family can watch or participate in.