Chinese New Year - a fantastic time to start learning Chinese!!

In a week's time (January 25th), it will be Chinese New Year! This is also known as Spring Festival (春节—chūn jié). I can't think of any better way to begin the New Lunar Year than by getting your family together for some traditional Chinese New Year activities. Not only is it fun, but it will reinforce the cultural heritage and context for your kids when learning Chinese, and put that practice to good use! Here are some easy ideas to bring in the Year of the Rat:

January 24th is New Year's Eve:

  • Make dumplings (饺子, Jiǎo zi)  - An easy and fun way to talk, teach and bond with all of your family. Dumplings represent harmony, reunion and wealth because they look round like a Chinese gold ingot. Describe each of the ingredients in Chinese. Also, make sure you do all your cleaning before the next day to avoid "sweeping away all the good fortune" that you will get tomorrow.
  • Recap your counting 1-10, and make little paper notes that represent money (一, 二,三, 四, 五, 六, 七, 八, 九, 十). We have a numbers section in our book!
  • With red paper (or colour some in to keep kids extra busy), create little red packets (红包, Hóng bāo), put the little notes you just made into them and give to each other. Open them together and recap how much money (钱, Qián) is in them. Practice your math for extra points.
  • Have a big family dinner with as much of your family and relatives as possible, feasting on your Chinese favourites, including the dumplings you made earlier!
January 25th is New Year's Day:
  • Either after the big dinner last night, or today, give/receive the red packets for real! Hopefully all that counting from yesterday will come in handy.
  • Learn and say gōng xǐ fā cái (Mandarin, 恭禧发财!), gong hei fat choi (Cantonese) to everyone! 
  • With lots of rolled up red paper attached to string, tape together a string of Chinese fire crackers. Alternatively, paper lanterns are easier with some paper, scissors and tape.
  • Recap what "animal year" your child or you are, based on the year you were born. We will be moving into the year of the courageous Rat (2020, 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960).

Need help with keeping the Chinese learning flowing? Our talking bilingual book will bridge the gap with fun and ease - just check out our video below showing Chinese New Year in Cantonese. Mandarin is also possible with a touch of a button!

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