Xīnnián hǎo! From China and Korea to Vietnam and Malaysia, East Asian cultures are celebrating the most significant holiday of the year as they usher in the 2023 Lunar New Year from January 22nd through February 1st. Goodbye, action-oriented Year of the Tiger! Hello Year of the Rabbit’s quiet contemplation and confidence! As a water year, it’s also time to go with the flow. Whether you’re Asian-American or you’d like to raise a child with cultural awareness and appreciation, Lunar New Year is a great opportunity to educate and partake in rich traditions.
What To Do for Lunar New Year
- Decorate! Red is considered a lucky color to ward off evil spirits and bring positive energy into your life at the start of the New Year. Deck out your front door with red lanterns, couplets, and calligraphy.
- Eat! Like any festival, Lunar New Year has its all-star lineup of signature dishes, including fish (to symbolize abundance), dumplings shaped like silver ingots (to symbolize family prosperity), glutinous rice cakes (to symbolize career advancement), sweet rice balls (to symbolize family togetherness), good fortune fruit (to symbolize fullness), spring rolls (to symbolize wealth), and longevity noodles (to symbolize happiness into old age). For tasty, easy dishes you can make at home, check out our top 5 kid-friendly Asian recipes.
- Gift! Red envelopes containing money are often gifted to children and retired seniors to wish them a safe and fortunate year. According to legend, there was a demon named Sui who came out New Year’s Eve to terrorize children at night, so parents would light candles and keep the children up all night. One boy’s parents decided to wrap and re-wrap eight coins to entertain him. After the boy fell asleep, his parents placed the coins under his pillow. When Sui came near, a magical light frightened him away, as the eight coins were actually eight fairies. Parents have been gifting red envelopes of money ever since. Other popular gifts include tea, fruits, and candies.
- Craft! Lunar New Year is full of vibrant imagery. With a few basic materials, you can make dragon puppets, firecrackers, paper lanterns, and rabbit greeting cards. Or try this “puzzling” twist on sensory bins.
- Learn! Panda Express TV combines storybook art with an easy explanation of the holiday with “The Story of the Lunar New Year.”
Slightly older kids can see real-life celebrations in this Scholastic video. You may also consider reading one of these popular Lunar New Year books. We Teach NYC put together this comprehensive guide of activities and resources for teaching elementary-aged children about Asian culture and Lunar New Year traditions. Similarly, the Panda Express Club offers 8 free interactive lessons that explore Lunar New Year traditions through trivia, language instruction, and more. Or you can take a virtual trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art to learn meditation, painting, mask crafting, and art interpretation.
- Celebrate! Firecrackers are a popular and customary way to drive away darkness and welcome light into your life. It’s not too late to order sparklers online for the kids. Festivities may also include a nighttime lantern parade and dragon dance through the streets.
Lunar New Year 2023 Events in the East End of Long Island
While NYC’s Chinatown comes to life with dragon parades and lantern festivals, Lunar New Year celebrations can be difficult to find in these parts. But you are always welcome to bring the kids to the Shine Studio, where we combine art, storytelling, song, culinary, dance, and education in fun, engaging, age-appropriate ways. Contact us for details.