Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Chinese New Year is one of the biggest events in the Chinese calendar and considered a major holiday for Chinese people around the world. The New Year festival is centuries old and comes about because of several Chinese myths and traditions. It was traditionally a time to honour the gods and ancestors. Chinese New Year celebrations last for 15 days, starting on the rising of the full moon between 21st Jan and 20th Feb and ending on the 15th night with the world famous Lantern Festival.

Do you know the story of Chinese New Year? According to tales and legends, the Chinese New Year started with a mythical monster called Nian, the dragon-like figure featured heavily in the celebrations, who would eat villagers, especially children. One year the villagers decided to hide from the monster, but a single older man decided to stay back and try to protect the village. He placed red papers in the windows and set up firecrackers in order to scare the monster. When the villagers returned to their homes the next day, they were still standing and no damage had been done at all. The man was declared a deity, a god, and it was thought he was sent to save them. From that moment on, the villagers thought that the Nian was afraid of the colour red and loud noises, which is where the fireworks and window displays come from. We can hear your brains saying ‘ahhhh I seeeee’ from here – interesting, isn’t it? There are loads more myths and monsters stories about; check your knowledge of them in the BrainBox Myths and Monsters game.

This year (2017), the first day of the Chinese New Year is on Saturday 28th January and we will be entering the Year of the Rooster. The Rooster? I know, not the type of animal you’d think was that interesting but this little fella is the only bird in the Chinese Zodiac so is very important. The Rooster is tenth in the Chinese Zodiac. Each year is related to an animal sign according to a 12-year cycle. Years of the Rooster include 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017 and 2029. To find out what Chinese Zodiac animal you are and what it means check out www.chinahighlights.com

How much do you know about China? Can you answer the questions on this card from the BrainBox The World game? Go on, test yourself and your family and see what you know.

Crafting is a huge part of celebrating this festival. Houses are decorated with traditional Chinese New Year decorations such as dragon (Nian) masks, homemade paper lanterns, puppets to reenact the story of the Nian and the windows and doors are often decorated with red paper cut outs representing Good Fortune, Happiness, Wealth and Longevity. The decorations are made with all generations getting involved, just like Christmas here.

Following with the crafty tradition, we have gathered some fun crafts to do with all the generations of your family, to celebrate Chinese New Year just like the Chinese do.

Red Ted Art, our go-to easy craft website, has kindly designed a FREE printable to help you create a quick and easy dragon (Nian) puppet to act out your Chinese New Year with.

Jen from Jennifer’s Little World has created some cute little Paper Cup Lanterns on her blog. They will hang beautifully from the tree outside or just in your windows.

Liz at Me and My Shadow has been creating Fire Cracker Junk Models with her little girl. Check out how they did it here.

Cat from Yellow Days has gathered her own list of her favourite Chinese New Year crafts over on her blog, 12 to be precise, so check them out too.

Don’t forget to show us your creations on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.