Chinese New Year (CNY) is coming up, starting February 5th, so we are spending sometime learning about Chinese New Year, and praying for the countries that celebrate this holiday. I must admit, I’m rather ignorant on the subject, so I asked my friend Sunny who writes at Spot of Sunshine to help me out. Sunny has amazing activities and ideas for how to raise bilingual children. So after reading all about Chinese New Year, go check out her other great content!
Wanting to celebrate Chinese New Year with your kiddos but don’t know how exactly to go about that? Nihao! I’m Sunny, mom to a ham of a three year old whom I’m trying to raise bilingual (Chinese and English) in rural Minnesota (yes, prayers would be appreciated).
Kayla asked if I would write a guest post on this topic and I’m so excited to share with you all! I was born in Taiwan and moved to the suburbs of Chicago when I was eight. I met Christ in high school then went into full time ministry after college. My husband and I served as missionaries in Taiwan for three year where he learned Chinese.
Background on CNY and its Similarities to Passover
While living overseas, Chinese New Year was the biggest celebration of the year people looked forward to. This is true for many countries in Asia. The holiday is basically the equivalent of Christmas here in the States. People would celebrate by gathering with family, feasting and exchanging red envelopes full of crisp fresh bills.
Although often recognized as a secular holiday with roots in the legend of a monster named Nian (Chinese for the word year) that came and terrified people once a year, there are many similarities between CNY and Passover. Below are a few:
Both Nian monster and the angel of death caused death when they passed through
Chinese put up red banners with auspicious words of blessing to ward off the Nian monster because it’s told that he is afraid of the color red. During the first passover, the Hebrews were instructed to put the blood of the lamb “on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses” (Exodus 12:7).
How to Celebrate
Chinese New Year Banners
How I’ve been celebrating with my daughter and student I tutor, is creating CNY banners, or spring couplets to hang up on our door. These are central to the festivities.Typically, banners focus on word on wealth and health.
While in Taiwan, I discovered that believers would hang up banners with verses and truths of God instead. I created free printable of both for you to print out and create with your children! Click here to get yours.
Learn A Chinese New Year Song
Songs are also central to the celebration. I wrote a post with printable lyrics and YouTube videos of two of the most popular CNY songs to help you and your kiddos learn them. These lyrics are in both traditional and simplified Chinese. They also have pinyin to help you know how to pronounce the words and English translation to help you know what you’re singing.
Children’s Books on CNY
Another great way to celebrate is by learning more about Chinese culture and about CNY. What better way to invite conversations about diversity than through children’s books! Here are a few great books we love!
We have the Chinese version of this beautiful book. The story is told through a little girl’s eyes. It’s not heavy on traditions, but mainly talks about what life looks like for a typical family in China where parents have to work in the city and able to return only a few times or even only once a year. It doesn’t go into spirits that are associated with CNY.
This is a beautifully illustrated book that also accurately depicts what Chinese New Year looks like in modern day China. Kids can also see what Chinese characters look like since the story is in both Chinese and English.
This is an adorable book takes you through CNY celebrations from the eyes of Chelsea, a girl celebrating CNY in America. It goes over the traditions and why they’re practiced. This one is also not super heavy on spirits.
Bake a Chinese New Year Treat!: Coconut Rice Cake
What better way to celebrate CNY than with a delicious yummy treat! Here’s the recipe for our favorite CNY rice cake, Coconut Rice cake. It’s simply enough that you can make it with your little ones and enjoy it together afterwards. In the recipe I also include a link to a vegan version.
How to Pray for Chinese Believers
Another great way to celebrate is by praying for Chinese Christians. In the recent years, there has been an increase of persecution of the Church in China. I’ve heard this both from a friend who has family who are Christians in China and also from the news. Please pray that through the persecution, their faith will be strengthened and not falter in the face of the challenges they’re facing. Pray that they will be strengthened with might in their inner man (Eph. 3:16).
Please also pray for the father’s heart to be revealed and for God to raise up shepherds. During our time ministering in Taiwan, we just saw the great need for both believers and unbelievers to know God as a father. There is so much fatherlessness and broken families in Asia, the need to know what God truly is like is so needed. Also, Asian culture places much emphasis on status and performance. Please pray for God to root and ground His children in His love, that they would know the length, width, depth and height of His love (Eph. 3:17-18).
Thank you for desiring to know about my culture and to share it with your children! If you’re interested in learning more about how to teach your child Chinese and be encouraged in your faith as a mom, please stop by my blog Spot of Sunshine (www.spotofsunshine.com).