The Chinese New Year: Year of the Snake

The Chinese New Year, which has been celebrated for more than four thousand years in China, is now celebrated all over the world. It’s a great time to get together with friends and family. Because the Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, the cycle of the moon, the date the New Year begins changes from year to year.  The New Year generally falls between January 21st and February 20th.  The celebration, which lasts for the full 14-day cycle of the moon, begins each year on the Second New Moon after the winter solstice.  The celebrations end when the Full Moon commences.

Every Chinese New Year party concludes with a dragon dance, as the dragon is a symbol of good luck. Red is a symbol of happiness and Chinese families hang red scrolls with good luck printed on them. Children receive money as a gift, usually an even amount in a red envelope, which symbolizes giving and receiving luck. The Chinese zodiac follows a twelve year cycle, with each year named for an animal. The Chinese believe that people born in a particular year take on the characteristics of the animal associated with that year.  The twelve animals of the zodiac are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep/goat, monkey, roster, dog, and pig.

2013 is the Year of the Snake.  Celebrate with the snake craft below.  To learn more about Chinese New Year, please visit the websites below or check out the list of books that can be found at MCLS (both lists follow the snake craft).  The websites include charts showing the zodiac signs by year and the characteristics for each sign.

Snake you can make
You will need:
one sheet of white card stock 
plate or circle object to trace
hole punch
string, wool or ribbon

Trace a large circle on white card stock using a round object such as a plate or lid  

Draw a spiral line from the inside to the outside

At the end of the circle make a snake face

Color both sides of the circle 

Let it dry

Cut out the spiral line to make springy spiral snake

Punch a hole on the snake tail 
String a piece of yarn through the hole and tie it
Hang your springy spiral snake in celebration of Chinese New Year!

Websites and Books:
DLTK's Craft for Kids: Chinese New Year
Travel China Guide: Chinese Zodiac
Chinese Calendar

Celebrating Chinese New Year/ Robinson, Fay.
"Read about the dragon parade, the holiday's beginnings, symbols and beliefs, and celebrating the New Year.”

Celebrate Chinese New Year. Otto, Carolyn.
Summary: Introduces readers to the origins and traditions of Chinese New Year.

Chelsea's Chinese new year / Bullard, Lisa.
Summary: Explains the significance of the holiday, discussing the traditional foods and customs.

Cat and Rat : the legend of the Chinese zodiac / Young, Ed.
Summary: Introduces the Chinese zodiac and relates how each of its twelve signs was named for an animal selected by the Jade Emperor.

The animals of the Chinese zodiac / Whitfield, Susan.
Summary: Follow the animals of ancient China on their journey to visit the Buddha, and discover how the years of the Chinese zodiac got their names.

The rooster's antlers : a story of the Chinese zodiac / Kimmel, Eric A.
Summary: Relates how the Jade Emperor chose twelve animals to represent the years in his calendar. Also discusses the Chinese calendar, zodiac, the qualities associated with each animal, and what animal rules the year in which the reader was born.

The year of the Pig : Tales from the Chinese zodiac / Chin, Oliver Clyde, 1969-
Summary: Patty the piglet learns what her best qualities really are when Farmer Wu needs everyone's help to find a lost ring

What the rat told me : a legend of the Chinese zodiac / Sellier, Marie.
Summary: A wonderful introduction for young readers to the Chinese zodiac adapted from a Chinese Buddhist legend dating from the Han dynasty.

- Chetna K.


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