Chinese New Year for Kids: Celebrating is Hard Work!

When we were living in New York City and feeling very homesick around Chinese New Year, I found myself looking for a funny picture book featuring the activities and traditions of Chinese New Year for kids that I could read to my daughter.

There were several nice books, but I never quite found one that conveyed the often hectic and raucous atmosphere I missed so much.  The Spring Festival (春节)or Chinese New Year always feels like a time when we start anew as a tribe, when we pledge to each other that we will make the new year better. And whatever we are experiencing, preparing for a big meal together and then eating together provides the feeling that we are truly not alone in the world and we belong to this tribe of people.  Celebrating holidays that are not within our own culture but with our friends who celebrate the festival is also a wonderful way of being together and honoring each other.

Well, we finally made our own story about Chinese New Year for kids, titled “Celebrating is Hard Work!” 《庆祝好累人!》and you can read it for free on the Dim Sum Warriors App. Download the App and register for a free username and password to open up all stories. The Chinese New Year story for kids is story #17 – newly published!

 

For parents and teachers reading our story in the Dim Sum Warriors app ahead of this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations, I have prepared some discussion questions—as well as a list of vocabulary in Mandarin and English covered in the story. These will help to enrich the discussion about Chinese New Year for kids.

Chinese New Year for Kids: VOCABULARY

Here’s a selection of words covered in our story, “Celebrating is Hard Work!” 《庆祝好累人!》”, which you can read in the Dim Sum Warriors App. You can also download a pdf with the full list together with the discussion questions.

HSK 1-2 易 Foundational

1

灯不关

dēng bùguān

leave the lights on

2

红包

hóngbāo

red packets

3

lèi

tired

3

新衣

xīnyī

new clothes

4

鱼生

yúshēng

raw fish salad

 

HSK 3-4 中 Intermediate

5 春节快乐 chūnjié kuàilè happy Lunar New Year
6 假日 jiàrì holiday
7 放/点燃 fàng / diǎnrán set off
8 除夕 chúxì Lunar New Year’s Eve

 

HSK5-6 难 Advanced

9 庆祝 qìngzhù celebrating
10 派对 píngguǒ pài party
11 团圆饭 tuányuán fàn reunion dinner
12 鞭炮 biānpào firecrackers
13 传统 chuántǒng tradition
14 长辈 zhǎngbèi elders
15 亲朋好友 qīnpéng hǎoyǒu friends and relatives
16 祝福 zhùfú blessing
17 守夜 shǒuyè staying up
18 财神爷 cáishén yé God of Wealth
19 年兽 niánshòu The Nian Monster
20 拜访 bàifǎng visit
21 橘子 júzi oranges
22 春联 chūnlián spring couplets
23 舞龙舞狮 wǔlóng wǔshī dragon and lion dance
24 盛大 shèngdà grand
25 元宵节 yuánxiāo jié final day of Lunar New Year (in some places, it is known as the ‘lantern festival’, as lanterns are a special feature of the celebrations)

 

Chinese New Year Story for Kids: QUESTIONS FOR CRITICAL THINKING

As Covid has affected travel and celebrations, especially large family gatherings, it’s important at Chinese New Year for kids to know what  traditional Chinese New Year activities are, and also for them to think about and discuss critical questions like:

  • Why do people hold elaborate celebrations when they often involve such hard work?
  • How have celebrations changed over the years?
  • What happens to us when there are no celebrations for festivals?

You can access the full list of questions for pre-reading, during-reading and post-reading  by downloading this PDF. Remember to download the story in the Dim Sum Warriors App for story. You can also pre-read this anthropologist’s take on why the rituals of cultural celebrations are important for families and societies.  

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Celebrations are Different Again This Year

I’m missing Chinese New Year again this year!

For many years, when we were living and working in New York, it was very inconvenient to travel back to Singapore for Chinese New Year. And now that we’re in Taiwan—where the distance and schedule are much more accommodating—Covid restrictions have stymied our efforts! I am really disappointed that we can’t take our daughter back to visit her extended family back in Singapore. I feel that getting to know her relatives better is a really integral part of Chinese New Year for kids.

But I am grateful for good health, that we have good friends in Taiwan with whom we can usher in the Year of the Tiger, and for the technology that allows us to celebrate (albeit virtually) with our very dear family and friends in New York and Singapore. Happy New Year, everybody!

Yen Yen

Dr. Yen Yen Woo works on educating for a multicultural and multilingual world through popular culture.  She most recently co-created the Dim Sum Warriors app, characters and stories for Bilingual Learning. She has a Doctorate in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and has been a tenured professor of education. She is also an award-winning film director and screenwriter. Her works have been licensed by HBO and Netflix and featured on BBC, Fast Company, Wired, and other global publications. Email: yenyen@dimsumwarriors.com.