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10 fun ways to celebrate Lunar New Year with kids

Usher in the Year of the Ox with these family-friendly activities

Little Asian girl joyfully holding red envelope on red background Credit: Kenishirotie

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The Lunar New Year is upon us! This special holiday celebration marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendars traditional to many east Asian countries including China, Tibet, South Korea, and Vietnam. Whether it’s called Chinese New Year, Losar, Seollal, or Tết, Lunar New Year is celebrated by more than 1.5 billion people across the globe.

In China, the festival lasts 15 days, starting with a large feast on the night of their New Year’s Eve (this year it’s tonight, Feb. 11) and ending with the Spring Lantern Festival (Feb. 26). Vietnam's Tết Nguyên Đán is celebrated for a week, and South Korea’s Seollal celebration is three days long. However long your culture chooses to celebrate, Lunar New Year is a holiday filled with family-oriented traditions that honor good fortune and new beginnings. Here are some ideas for how your family can celebrate.

1. Don some new red duds

Kids in red clothes
Credit: H & M

Red is the color of joy and red clothes are said to scare away evil spirits.

Red is the color of luck and of joy. A new outfit symbolizes new beginnings and if it’s red those beginnings are sure to be filled with good fortune. Red clothes are said to scare away evil spirits and invite good fortune for the year to come, so sport some scarlet from head to toe!

2. Deck the halls with red and gold

Red garland and a stack of golden balloons
Credit: Decor365 / Brontothere

Decorating your house in red and gold symbolizes happiness and prosperity.

The color of good luck and happiness shouldn’t be kept to the clothes alone. Deck the halls in crimson as well—and combine it with gold while you’re at it. While red is for luck and joy, gold—unsurprisingly—symbolizes wealth and prosperity. When you combine the two colors it’s a welcome mat for good fortune and prosperity in the new year. This garland and balloon combo sets a shimmering stage that's sure to ring in an auspicious start to the new year.

3. Learn an ancient art form

Jianzhi paper cuttings
Credit: Shayier

Jianzhi is an ornate paper cutting art. You can buy some to decorate with, or have your child make their own.

A fun craft to get that hallway decor going is the Chinese art Jianzhi. Jianzhi is a highly ornate paper cutting art that takes decades of practice, but—at its heart—it’s similar to cutting out paper snowflakes. All you need some red paper and some scissors to make these festive red Chinese New Year decorations. Like snowflakes, no paper cutouts are alike, so kids can make their own special statement in what they create.

4. Have a dim sum dinner

Credit: Goldbelly

Goldbelly can deliver a dim sum dinner filled with symbolic dishes for a lucky new year.

This lucky dinner is filled with dishes that hold symbolic meanings for an auspicious start to the lunar year. Shrimp dumplings and pork dumplings represent prosperity while the “longevity noodles” are meant to honor and encourage a long and happy life. This dinner comes to you via Goldbelly from the renowned Jing Fong in New York’s Chinatown and has everything a family of three to four needs for a start of a prosperous year.

Get the Lunar New Year dim sum kit for 3 to 4 people at Goldbelly for $109

5. Fill some little red envelopes

Child holding red ox envelopes and a table filled with lucky symbols for Chinese New Year
Credit: Getty Images / Supla

These red envelopes are specially for children and contain money as a symbol of good luck and prosperity

During that lucky dinner, be sure to hand out traditional red envelopes or hóng bāo in Mandarin and lai see in Cantonese. These small red and gold packets are specially for children and contain money as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Children are expected to spend the money within the year, so this sum shouldn’t go into their savings account but should go towards something that brings them joy. Avoid giving coins and try to give money in even amounts.

Get the Year of the Ox lucky money envelopes at Amazon for $12.99

6. Make your own dragon dance

Homemade paper dragon craft for kids
Credit: Made With Happy

Dragons symbolize strength, ferocity, and dignity.

If you’re not able to get out and see the annual dragon dance at a Chinatown near you, bring the festival home. Dragons symbolize strength, power, dignity, and luck and are said to drive away evil spirits. Pull out the toy drums and cymbals and make your own dragon marionette, like this one from the Made With Happy blog, to have a parade and dragon dance of your own at home.

7. Create some fireworks

Homemade craft made to look like fireworks
Credit: Kids Craft Room

Homemade fireworks make for a dynamite celebration.

Fireworks are a huge part of welcoming in the new lunar new year and are meant to chase away evil spirits and welcome in the new year with a powerful spark. While you can’t light fireworks off at home, you can certainly make this fun firework craft by Kid’s Craft Room.

8. Have a mini lantern festival

Chinese lanterns in a red cherry blossom tree
Credit: Hicarer Store

The Chinese New Year typically culminates with a spring lantern festival.

The Lunar New Year celebration ends this year on Feb. 26 with the spring Lantern Festival. You may not be able to attend one at your local Chinatown, but you can definitely celebrate at home with a kid-friendly craft, or by buying these festive ones to hang with designs that celebrate spring.

Get the 7-piece spring lantern set at Amazon for $10.99

10. Take a trip to China (without leaving home)

Little Global Citizens Chinese New Year box
Credit: Little Global Citizens

Little Global Citizens helps kids learn about other cultures.

Little Global Citizens ranks as one of our editors’ favorite subscription boxes, and there’s good reason why. It’s a fully immersive experience in global cultures. We can’t take a trip to the far east, but we can teach our kids about the world and this month their box focuses on China. It comes with authentic guides, informative books, inspired crafts, and a whole lot of fun screen-free activities to get kids involved, informed, and learning.

Get the Little Global Citizens Chinese culture box starting at $34.95

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