Lunar New Year Activities: 8 Festive DIY Ways to Ring in the Year of the Rat
Sure, lion dancing, firecracker displays, and other Lunar New Year festivities are lots of fun, but what do you do on the days there are none? You make your own of course! Here are some ideas for how to create your own Year of the Rat activities, and the supplies to make them happen.
Learn about the Chinese zodiac animals
The Chinese zodiac has a cycle of 12 years and an animal for each of those years. Kids can learn about the animals with this activity book with stickers and these Chinese zodiac paper placemats, which can double as activity sheets. Notice any years missing? Have kids figure them out by adding multiples of 12!
Make Year of the Rat hats
Celebrate the resourceful rodent by having kids make their own Year of the Rat hats. Then tell them about the how the Rat came to be first on the Chinese zodiac and its personality traits.
Tell Lunar New Year fortunes
While not strictly associated with the Lunar New Year (in fact, they might be a European invention), paper fortune tellers are still lots of fun. They’re also easy to make. All you need is some paper, a writing implement, and your imagination. These Lunar New Year-themed kits make it even easier.
Make lucky red envelopes
A big part of Lunar New Year is the gifting of hong bao or red envelopes with lucky money inside from married adults to kids and those who are single. While hong bao are inexpensive and easy to get, you can also make your own, whether with origami or regular paper. (Need to restock on the former? Check out our origami paper collection.) You can also design your own money to put into the envelopes, then wish each other good luck with the proper Lunar New Year greeting.
Put on a lion dancing parade
The main attraction of Lunar New Year is the lion dance. Noisy and full of joy, it’s meant to both scare away evil spirits and make for an auspicious start to the New Year. You can put on your own lion dancing parade with kid-sized lion heads and spindle drum and tambourines to make some noise. Add some cute mouse hats to honor the Year of the Rat.
Put on a Lunar New Year puppet show
If a parade is a bit much, consider a Lunar New Year-themed puppet show. Using dragon and lion marionettes, kids can reenact the clamorous tradition or put their imaginations to work by crafting their own fantastical tales.
Learn about Chinese art and culture
Take advantage of the most important Chinese holiday to learn more about Chinese art and culture. Practice Chinese characters as much as you want with a reusable calligraphy set. Try your hand at Chinese watercolor technique with an array of colors. Make like an archaeologist and excavate the famous Xi’An Terra-Cotta Army.
Make lanterns for the Lantern Festival
Image via FirstPalette
The two-week Lunar New Year celebration ends with the Lantern Festival, which involves eating tangyuan or sticky rice balls, dance performances, and, you guessed it, lots of lanterns. Have kids make their own paper lanterns and write riddles on them to try and stump each other — and you!Want more ideas? Check out our posts on more traditions and lucky foods. And if you’re in the New York area, be sure to join us for our Lunar New Year extravaganza!