Exploring traditions from other cultures is one way to expand your family’s view of the world and cultivate a heart for the peoples God loves. Learn about Chinese New Year, the most important holiday in China. It is celebrated in many other East Asian countries as well, though each has its own traditions surrounding it.
Chinese New Year is also known as Lunar New Year (its date is based on a lunar calendar) or Spring Festival. Billions of people around the world celebrate it each year. In 2023, this festival begins on January 22. Chinese New Year is traditionally marked by large family gatherings. People buy new clothing, decorate their homes, eat special foods, and give each other financial gifts. Many cities put on huge firework shows and have large parades during the 15-day celebration.
Chinese New Year celebrations started 3,500 years ago. According to legend, a ferocious monster named Nian (nee-EHN, Chinese word for “year”) who would attack Chinese villages at the end of the year, destroying crops, devouring livestock, and even even eating the villagers themselves. To protect themselves, families began lighting fireworks and wearing the color red to scare off the monster on the eve of lunar new year.
Traditions have expanded since then and now include cleaning the house to get rid of bad luck and eating specific foods to bring in good luck–dumplings, fish, spring rolls, sweet rice cakes, and longevity noodles. Red is believed to be a lucky color so families put up red banners with different auspicious sayings, wear red holiday outfits, and give gifts of money in small red envelopes. If you or your family know any families of Chinese or East Asian heritage, ask them how they celebrate Chinese New Year!
- Ask your children to search the house to find and count everything that is bright red. Does the color red mean anything specific or special to your family? Why or why not?
- Read Daniel 2:21-22 and Colossians 1:16-17. Then talk about who created and gives meaning or understanding to everything. God chose to create our world just the way He did. He made the sky blue and the grass green. He made flowers of many different colors. Do you think God made specific colors more important or special than others?
- Explain that red is particularly important in the Chinese New Year celebration, yet it was God who created all the colors and put His handiwork on display for us to see, appreciate, and point us back to Him.
- Pray that Chinese families around the world would know that God holds everything in His hands and that only He can truly change their lives to produce the kind of “luck” and well-being they seek every Chinese New Year.
Learn More about Chinese New Year
Explore more about Chinese culture with your family using ideas on Alicia’s blog.
Pray for the Chinese people using Christar’s “Lunar New Year: 15 Days, 15 Ways to Pray” online resource.