The Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is the most important of the Chinese holidays, and is a time of feasting with the family, celebration, fireworks and gift-giving. It is a 15-day holiday, beginning on the first day of a new moon and ending with the full moon on the day of the Lantern Festival. The Chinese calendar is based on the lunar year, so the date of Chinese New Year changes every year. The Chinese calendar follows a 12-year pattern with each year named after an animal. There are various stories which explain this. On Saturday, at my storytelling session in the library, we looked at all the animals from the Chinese zodiac; the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the ram, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig. I asked the children the date of their birthdays and the year. In the group there were three children born in the year of the dragon, three in the year of the snake and six in the year of the horse. Then I told one of the stories of how the animals were chosen for the Chinese zodiac. I used a very simple version; The Chinese New Year by Joanna Troughton from Cambridge Storybooks. At the point when all the animals are swimming across the river I stopped to see who the children thought would win the race. After lots of guesses one child did say the rat.  Here is a version of the story on the internet. Also on this site you can find out which Chinese year you were born in by putting in your birthday. The Chinese believe that people born in a particular year take on the characteristics of the animal associated with that year. There are also some great related activities. To follow up the students did a word search from this website; Also at Activity Village you can also find lots of interesting activities about the different festivals celebrated in Britain. (Soon it will be Valentine’s Day and then Pancake Day) We finished off our session by making a bookmark which the children decorated with their own Chinese zodiac animal sign. By the way I’m a rooster!

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