Celebrate Chinese New Year

February 19, 2015

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year!

Today we celebrate the Lunar New Year, more commonly known as Chinese New Year, with this new year bringing us the Year of the Sheep (or Ram, or Goat).  We've got lots of books that tell stories, talk about traditions, have recipes, and teach about the Chinese Zodiac to share with you!

Here are some of our favorites:

Starting with stories about preparing for the Lunar New Year, we've got This Next New Year by Janet S. Wong, Bringing In the New Year by Grace Lin, and My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz. These stories tell about some of the traditions that are associated with Chinese New Year, including cleaning the house to sweep away last year's bad luck, displaying bowls of oranges or tangerines to signify good luck, wearing new clothes and getting hair cuts to start the year fresh, and giving money in red envelopes to bring more good luck.

A beautifully written story about another tradition, visiting the Wishing Tree in Hong Kong, is the next story. The Wishing Tree by Roseanne Thong tells about a boy who visits the Wishing Tree yearly during Lunar New Year with his grandmother. Wishes are written on bundles of decorative paper, rolled up and tied with string, and attached to a Mandarin orange. Then the wishes are tossed into the tree where if they catch on the branches, they are more likely to come true. The book also includes a pattern to copy and make your own wishing paper.

The next story is about the Chinese wok–a symbol of sharing. The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine tells  of a poor family in Beijing that discovers an old rusted wok with no handle. The wok is magic, though, and it changes the fortune of this family, who although they are poor, they enjoy sharing what they have with their friends and neighbors.

The last book shares the tale of the Chinese Zodiac. The Great Race by Dawn Casey relates how the Jade Emperor chooses twelve animals to represent the years in his calendar. It also discusses the Chinese calendar, zodiac, the qualities associated with each animal, and what animal rules the year in which the reader is born. The Chinese believe that the animal that rules when you are born is "the animal that hides in your heart." So people born this year, in the Year of the Sheep, are artistic, loving and tender-hearted.

Here are some crafts we found that you'll enjoy just as much as we did!

Happy New Year, everyone!


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