January 2021

Year of the Ox


Happy Chinese New Year! In 2021, we celebrate the Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, on February 12, 2021 and officially begin the year of the Ox. Let’s explore how to celebrate the Chinese New Year with your students!

The Chinese New Year begins on February 12, because it falls on the Chinese Lunar Calendar. It is traditionally a time to honor the household, family, and ancestors, and is the most widely celebrated holiday in China.

Since the Chinese New Year is celebrated by getting together with family, food is an essential part of the tradition. Traditionally, fish must be eaten at the meal, but people across China incorporate different foods depending on the region. The food chosen usually symbolizes hopes for the new year. For example, nian gao cakes symbolize higher success in the new year. Learn more about traditional Lunar New Year foods and their meaning.

Another way to celebrate the Chinese New Year is by letting off fireworks. In fact the most fireworks are set off the night of the new year! It is a way to welcome the new year. Families will also burn fake paper money to honor deceased members of the family—similar to Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Red is also an important color of the Chinese New Year—it is worn to symbolize good fortune and joy. Children even received money in red envelopes for prosperity.

This year, we celebrate the Year of the Ox. In the Chinese zodiac, the positive traits of the animal are bestowed upon any people born in during their zodiac year. The ox is a hard-working animal, and reliable. The last year of the Ox was in 2009.

To celebrate the Chinese New Year with your students, you can:

  • Explain the symbolism and history of the Chinese New Year
  • Create red lanterns to decorate the classroom
  • Play a MahJong game
  • Take a virtual tour of different sites around China

Happy Chinese New Year!

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