Activity 1: Celebrating Chinese New Year
In this activity students learn about Chinese New Year and explore the feeling of celebration through the illustrations of
Key inquiry questions:
- How and why is Chinese New Year celebrated?
- What are the symbols and stories associated with Chinese New Year?
- Introduce the topic by asking students how their families celebrate New Year's Eve.
- Show students the images of the Chinese New Year celebrations and explain that the Chinese celebrate their New Year at
the beginning of spring in February.
- Ask students whether they know how other families from different cultures celebrate New Year.
- Explain that there are Chinese people living throughout the world, including Australia and they celebrate Chinese New
Year. View Lunar New Year Celebrations Around World Usher in Year of the Dragon and show the images of celebrations occurring
around the world.
- Explain that one common element in New Year celebrations is fireworks or light shows and the Chinese believe that
fireworks ward off evil spirits.
- Discuss with students whether they have stayed awake to watch a fireworks display, how they felt about the event, and
what they saw?
- Ask students to look at the images of the Chinese New Year fireworks and the additional
images of fireworks.
- Discuss with them the colours, shapes, symmetry and directions of a fireworks display. Explain that the spray of colour
comes from a central point and lines of colour radiate out from this.
- Explain that they will draw four different firework displays and colour them in their favourite colours, either in a
singular colour or in a variety of colours.
- Ask them to select the display they like the best and share with the student next to them why they made that decision.
Their partner can then select the one they like the best and explain why they like it.
- Explain that they will now use one of their displays to create a firework display on cardboard.
- Provide students with a piece of black cardboard to:
- dribble or splatter paint in a controlled directional way
- overlap different sprays of fireworks but must remember to allow each to dry before applying another
- cut-out parts of the spray to allow light to shine into their design
- add pieces of coloured cellophane, by gluing it to the back of the card.
- Display students' work on a window where the cut-out areas will be seen.
About Chinese New Year celebrations
In Australia and many other countries, 1 January starts the year. It is often a public holiday and most work places are
closed for at least part of the day.
New Year parties start on 31 December (New Year's Eve). Food and drink is shared, and crowds gather to celebrate. At
midnight, when the old year ends, people make a lot of noise with whistles and rattles, car horns and church bells. The noise
is meant to scare away evil spirits and bad luck. Some cities have elaborate firework displays.
This is also a time for new starts and the making of New Year's resolutions or promises to ourselves to be better and
change our bad ways.
Chinese New Year
In China and in many other countries of the world, including Australia, Chinese New Year is celebrated between the end of
January and mid-February. Chinese New Year is a very special time to celebrate a new beginning and good fortune. It occurs at
the beginning of spring and is also known as the 'Spring Festival'.
Preparations are made for special ceremonies to thank the gods, particularly the Kitchen god as well as honouring the
ancestors. Malt candy, wine, special money paper and sometimes fodder are offered to the Kitchen god to provide a good report
on the family to the other gods.
The house is cleaned and a new image of the kitchen god is placed above the stove.
At midnight on New Year's Eve everyone waits up and exchanges greetings when the new year begins.
Red packets decorated with gold, good-luck characters with money enclosed are given as gifts to children.
Red is the colour of happiness and good luck and people hang red scrolls with New Year wishes written on them to decorate
their houses and businesses. Fireworks are set off night and day to ward off evil spirits.