Lunar New Year is here! Our celebrations have morphed over the years, especially depending on the season of life and ages of children. Some years are more festive, while others simply get a “Happy New Year” and a nice meal for recognition.
Although we’re trying to establish a few traditions for the children, we don’t typically do the exact same thing every year. I think the main focus is that we do something to recognize the largest Chinese holiday for our children’s birth country, no matter how small or large. Especially as our children become more aware of their past, I want them to have opportunities to experience China right here in America, even though those experiences might not look exactly like authentic celebrations.
Here are 15 ideas from adoptive families across the country:
1. Read some of your family’s favorite Chinese New Year children’s books. Find a few at the library, or start your own collection.
2. Order Chinese takeout or eat out for an authentic Chinese meal. Or share a celebration meal with local Chinese friends or another adoptive family.
3. Gift your children hóng bāo (red envelopes) filled with a small amount of money.
4. Spend an afternoon rocking out to traditional Chinese music while making Chinese New Year crafts with friends.
5. Give the house a good and thorough clean out before Chinese New Year.
6. Buy a new outfit for your children and get them new haircuts.
7. Stay up late to celebrate the new year with sparklers and whipper snappers. Or just wait until it’s dark to celebrate, and then still go to bed on time.
8. Attend your local Families With Children From China (FCC) New Year party. Or do some google research to find out if another similar local organization exists and hosts celebrations for adoptive families.
9. Check out local celebrations, programs, or performances. You can sometimes find them at libraries, local cultural associations, local Chinese schools, art museums, performance locations, martial arts centers, local universities, etc. Chinese dance and acrobatic performances can often be found in larger cities at this time of year. Parades and celebrations are usually hosted in Chinatowns.
10. Make jiǎozi (dumplings) with your family, or get a group together and make it a dumpling-making party! Rock out to traditional Chinese music while you stuff the wrappers! I love Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Dumplings cookbook for recipes.
11. Cook a few authentic dishes and have a hào chī (delicious) China-inspired evening of food.
12. Decorate the house with a few Chinese decorations to commemorate the special celebration.
13. Once the Christmas tree ornaments are down, replace them with some Chinese New Year tree ornaments.
14. Organize a Lunar New Year party and/or learning activity for your child’s classroom at school.