7 Ways to Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Kids

Today, Judy shares a great collection ideas for how to celebrate the Lunar New Year with kids:

Growing up in the suburbs of Boston, I was often the only Asian student in my class, and I looked forward to the Lunar New Year as an opportunity to share our cultural traditions (and my mom’s yummy cooking) with my classmates. Although I can’t share my mom’s dumplings with all of you (sorry!), here are some ideas to celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year (January 31), the Year of the Horse, with your kids! 

1. Read Lunar New Year books. Bringing In the New Year by local children’s book author, Grace Lin, is a favorite in our house, and tells the story of a Chinese-American family preparing for the LNY.  More children’s books about this holiday can be found on Amazon.

2. Make a Chinatown field trip. Bundle up and take the little ones on a field trip to Chinatown. There’s no more exciting time to visit this historic neighborhood than during the LNY. Parking isn’t always easy to come by so take the T if you can. While you’re there, treat yourselves to some authentic Chinese pastries at Eldo Cake House.

3. Enjoy dim sum. Dim sum isn’t just brunch – it’s a unique cultural and educational experience. Jumbo Seafood (Newton) and China Pearl (Woburn) are great options for those who don’t want to deal with city crowds. Not sure what to order for the kids? Can’t go wrong with char siu bao!

4. Get crafty. There are some adorable LNY craft ideas on Pinterest, such as these good luck goldfish.

5. Make dumplings.  Sweet dumplings (or “tong yuen”) are a traditional Chinese New Year treat. The Dumpling Sisters have an awesome tutorial for how you and the kiddos can make your own at home.

6. Make red envelopes. In many Asian cultures, parents fill red envelopes with monetary gifts to bestow good luck to children. Teach your children about this tradition (perhaps through this craft activity), and hide a red envelope under their pillow on new year’s eve!  

7. Enjoy a local event. There's no shortage of wonderful programming coming up in and around Boston:

  • January 19: Partake in the Boston Children's Museum's OSHOGATSU (Japanese New Year) celebration, featuring TAIKO drumming, the SHISHIMAI lion dance, MOCHI rice pounding, giant origami, tea ceremony, and TAKO kite making.
  • February 1: The Peabody Essex Museum is hosting a Lunar New Year weekend festival including traditional lion dance performances (by the Gund Kwok Asian Women's Lion and Dragon Dance Troupe), a film set in Boston's Chinatown, sword play, and drop-in art activities.
  • February 8: Celebrate the Year of the Horse with free admission at the Museum of Fine Arts. Browse the MFA’s galleries to learn about Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese traditions, and ring in the Lunar New Year with activities scheduled throughout the day, including a festive parade and lion dance performance, interactive demonstrations of Gong-Fu (martial arts) and Saebae (Korean bowing ceremony), and fun family art-making activities.
  • February 9: One of the most exciting events is the annual Chinese Lion Dance Parade in Boston’s Chinatown. A word of caution: loud drumming, firecrackers, and the dancing lion can be intimidating and overwhelming to those with sensory sensitivities and/or fear of characters in costume.
  • March 7: Join the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center for their traditional Chinese New Year celebration, including a dim sum reception, multi-course banquet, and silent auction. This evening fundraising event might be better suited for older children.

Do you have other ideas for celebrating the Lunar New Year? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Image credits: all images credit to linked sources above.