Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Chinese New Year ...

As part of our 'Let's Celebrate' inquiry, we are learning about different New Years celebrations around the world.

The oldest and most important festival in China is called the Spring Festival. Many people call it the Chinese New Year. No matter what you call it, it is a time of celebration for millions of Chinese people all over the world.

The Chinese New Year festival origins come from a story...

A long time ago, there was a terrible mythical monster who preyed on villagers, especially the children.  It slept all the year until the last day, when it woke to eat people.  The lion-like monster's name was Nian which is also the Chinese word for "year".   
A wise old man counselled the villagers in order to ward off the evil Nian by making loud noises with drums and firecrackers; hanging red paper cutouts and scrolls on their doors, because for some reason the Nian is scared of the colour red.   
The villagers took the old man's advice and the Nian was conquered.  On the anniversary of the date, the Chinese people recognise the "passing of the Nian", known in Chinese as guo nian, and celebrate it.
Because the Chinese use a lunar calendar, the date of the festival changes each year. It takes place at some time during the end of January or the beginning of February. This year it starts on February 19, 2015.  Traditionally celebrations last for fifteen days, ending on the date of the full moon.  Its ending is heralded with a Lantern Festival.

The Chinese calendar has a 12 year cycle and each year is named after an animal. People born in each of these years are said to have certain characteristics. The year 2015 is the Year of the Sheep/Goat/Ram. 

We are learning about different ways people celebrate Chinese New Year, here in New Zealand and in China and other countries.  

We know that the colours red, orange and gold are used for decorations and clothing; special clothing is worn; people have parades; dance and play special music; the occasion is shared with family and friends; festive foods are enjoyed such as moon cakes, fruits and candies; gifts are given of money or sweets (in red envelopes); lanterns are lit ...

The New Year celebrations are a time to say goodbye to the old year and welcome to the the new.  

I wonder what else we will learn about this special celebration?

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