Chinese New Year

Page 2 – Chinese New Year activities - social studies activities

Chinese New Year

2013: Year of the Snake

Each year of the Chinese calendar is represented by an animal. In 2013 it is the Year of the Snake. In ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig (Boar). Buddha named a year after each one. Just as there is a belief that your star sign determines your personality, it is believed that people born in each animal's year would possess some of that creature's personality.

The Chinese New Year is celebrated as the symbol of spring's celebration. In fact in China the Chinese New Year is still called the Spring festival. It is celebrated after the fall harvest and before the spring planting season. The date of the Chinese New Year is always changing and is dependant on the Chinese calendar. Emperor Huangdi in the year 2637 B.C.E invented the Chinese calendar.

Chinese New Year is a time of great celebration, filled with fireworks, performance and symbolism. The lion dance is performed as it is believed to bring good luck, good fortune and good health while also driving away evil spirits. It is also a time of mass migration, as Chinese all over the world travel home to have reunion dinners with their families.

The colour red is dominant at Chinese New Year as it symbolises fire, which can drive away bad luck. People wear red clothes and give children lucky money in red envelopes.

Activities

  1. Find out what year you were born in according to the Chinese calendar. Remember that the Chinese New Year usually starts in February. 
  2. What year will next year be according to the Chinese calendar?
  3. See if you can find out some of the characteristics of people born in your year. Wikipedia is a good place to look.
  4. How is the Chinese New Year different from the New Year celebrated by many other people on 31 December? List at least four differences.
  5. How is the Chinese New Year similar to the New Year celebrated by many other people on 31 December? List at least four similarities.
  6. In a paragraph, of between four and six lines, explain why you think many people and cultures celebrate occasions like New Year or birthdays? 
  7. Describe how you or your family usually celebrate a New Year. If you don't celebrate it, explain why not. 
  8. In what way is the Chinese calendar similar to the Western calendar?
How to cite this page

'Chinese New Year activities - social studies activities', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/classroom/chinese-new-year/chinese-new-year-social-studies-activity, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 13-Feb-2013