Chinese New Year is Feb 3 – 3 Reasons We Should All Celebrate

by Nindo Mom on January 27, 2011

When is the Chinese New Year in 2011?

February 3 2011 is the beginning of the new year for the Chinese–specifically, it’s the start of the Year of the Rabbit.

Reasons to Celebrate the Chinese New Year

Even if you don’t happen to have any Chinese culture in your family background, this is an awesome opportunity to:

  1. Celebrate something positive — and bring joy into your life
  2. Teach your kids (and yourself) about another culture. Understanding what’s important to other people — which includes the things they celebrate — can help you to learn to relate to them in other areas of life, as well.
  3. Be able to discuss what you learn about the Chinese New Year and it’s origins and customs to the people in your life. This will help promote understanding between cultures and will help your friends and family learn something new and interesting.

Food Eaten to Celebrate the Chinese New Year

One custom the Chinese often follow is to consume jai on New Year’s Day. Jai is a vegetarian dish made from a variety of ingredients including the lotus seed, ginko nut, seaweed, dried bean curd, and bamboo shoots. Other customary Chinese New Year foods include a chicken with its head, tail, and feet still attached (representing prosperity); a whole fish with head and tail still attached (representing togetherness); uncut noodles (symbolizing long life); steamed rice pudding; steamed wheat bread; and meat dumplings. Some of these foods are eaten more often in one area of China or another–and of course can vary between families due to personal preference.

Customs Followed During the Chinese New Year – and Why We Should Try Them

The celebration for the Chinese New Year lasts for fifteen days. Traditions followed by many families during the Chinese New Year period  include:

  • Abstain from Meat (first day)
    This can be a great thing to try with your family, if you haven’t done so before. It’s so easy to eat out too often and miss out on a lot of the healthy veggies we should be incorporating into our diets. So why not experiment with eating an all-veggie meal in a way that’s fun and educational?
  • Pray to Ancestors
  • Pay Respect to In-laws
    Showing respect to others, whether they’re your in-laws or not, is a “skill” that seems all too often to be non-existent in our society today. Often, we convince ourselves to ignore the abundance of disrespect out there because we feel helpless to change it–but discussing with our children how to respect others–and how others feel about us when we show them respect–can be a vital learning experience
  • Visit Family and Friends / Share Meals
    This is already a favorite pass-time of most Americans, so why not take one more opportunity to do what we already love! If you invite a group of friends and relatives over to your home, make sure to check out some genuine Chinese recipes to add authenticity to your version of the celebration. And be sure to share with everyone what the celebration is for, so that everyone can benefit from what you’ve learned.
  • Attend the Ever-popular Lantern Festival (on the fifteenth day)
    Sometimes called a Chinese New Year Parade, here in the U.S.

    Many major cities will hold some kind of a public Chinese New Year paradeso check your local event listings. You can also try the events section of your local newspaper or the local office of parks and recreation. 

Another Resource:
The kids website has some nice Chinese New Year crafts for kids, if you’re interested in checking it out.

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