Chinese New Year Fun Facts for Kids

2016 year of the Monkey, Begins on February 8th
  • Chinese New Year has been celebrated for over 4,000 years.
  • It started from ancient celebrations that celebrated the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring.
  • Chinese New Year symbolizes letting go of the past and welcoming a new beginning.
  • Chinese New Year has also been called the Spring Festival or the First Day of the Great Year.
  • In the U.S and other Western Nations we celebrate New Years on January 1st every year.  The Chinese New Year is different every year because it falls on the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar.  The celebrations end on the first day with a full moon (15 days later).
  • The lunar calendar is a calendar that is based on the phases of the moon.
  • In China children are off from school during Chinese New Year.
  • The Chinese calendar runs on a 12 year cycle.
  • Each new year is named after an animal from the Chinese zodiac.
  • The animals in order are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
  • 20015 is the year of the Sheep.  Look at the bottom of the page to find what animal year you were born in.
  • The night before the new year it is tradition to have a reunion dinner with relatives.
  • Some foods that are made during Chinese New Year are: Jiu Niang Tang – a sweet wine rice soup, Song Gao – loose cake, made of rice, Tang Yuan- black sesame rice ball soup and other special dishes made with chicken, duck and fish.
  • People decorate their homes with mandarin trees for good luck.
  • People also decorate with red and white cut out paper decorations.  They symbolize happiness, good fortune, longevity and wealth.
  • Children often receive red shiny envelopes of money from relatives called hong bao in Manderin .  The money in the envelope is always an even number amount and cannot be divided evenly by the number 4.  This is because the Chinese believe that the number 4 is associated with death.
  • Firecrackers are often let off during Chinese New Year.  It is believed that the firecrackers scare away any evil spirits.
  • On the 5th day of the Chinese New Year is Jie Cai Geng- Welcoming the Gods of Wealth and Prosperity.  It is believed on this day the Gods of Wealth and Prosperity come down from heaven.
  • During Jie Cai Geng some business owners set off fireworks to bring their business good fortune.
  • Dragons are also an important part of Chinese New Year celebrations. Some Chinese believe that they are descendants (ancestors) of the dragon. 
  • The dragon is a sign of good luck and good fortune.
  • During Chinese New Year there are many dragon costumes, dragon dances and other performances with dragons.
  • The last day of the Chinese New Year (the 15th day) is called the Festival of Lanterns- Yuan Xiao Jie.
  • On Yuan Xiao Jie it is tradition to walk the streets holding lanterns to light the way for the new year.
  • During Yuan Xiao Jie you will see many different kinds of lanterns.  Often you will see rabbit lanterns.
  • The rabbit lanterns represent the rabbit from the Chinese myth about the goddess Chang E.
  •   The myth talks about how Chang E jumped on the moon but didn’t go alone, she brought a rabbit with her.  It is believed that if your heart is pure you will be able to see Chang E and her rabbit on the moon that night.
  • Mandarin and Cantonese are the two main languages spoken in China.
  • Happy New Year in Mandarin – Gong Xi Fa Cai
  • Happy New Year in Cantonese- Gong Hey Fat Choy
  • Chinese New Year is celebrated around China, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Mauritius and Chinatowns and places with large Chinese populations all over the world.

 

What is your Chinese Zodiac Animal ?

Rat -1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008
Ox– 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009
Tiger– 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010
Rabbit– 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011
Dragon – 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012
Snake –  1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013
Horse – 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014
Sheep – 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015
Monkey – 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016
Rooster – 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017
Dog – 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
Pig – 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019