Spring Festival, Lunar New Year

To celebrate Earth’s complete one-year rotation around the sun, people around the world celebrate the new year with fireworks, family, and festivities. One of the most famous of the world’s New Year’s festivals is the Spring Festival in China, where celebrations begin on New Year’s Eve of the lunar New Year and lasts for fifteen days. The lantern festival takes place on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, and it marks the end of the New Year celebration. The Spring Festival period is also an important holiday for families. People travelling back to their hometowns within China to visit their family make New Year’s one of the world’s largest annual migrations, known as chunyun or spring travel. Family meals are prepared by elders. One mealtime tradition is to place a small item, usually a coin or jujube, into one of the dumplings. If someone gets the coin, it means that person will have good financial luck in the New Year, whereas a jujube would signify romantic luck. The ancient Chinese technology of fireworks was used as a way to scare off evil spirits during the Spring Festival. The tradition continues today as a symbol for a joyful time of year.

Questions for Discussion

  • Lunar New Year is celebrated by other Asian countries including Mongolia, Korea, and Vietnam at the same time each year as in China. Research the celebrations in these countries and describe what they share in common and what makes each unique.
  • Are there Lunar New Year celebrations in your community? Research how this holiday is celebrated in your city or neighborhood.
  • Research Chinese lantern patterns and create your own lantern made from red paper. Use an LED light to illuminate your lantern.