circular-fan-lanternAs the name tells it, Chinese New Year marks the beginning of a new year for the Chinese. However, do we know and appreciate the significance behind the culture and traditions?

As we prepare for the celebrations, let us take the opportunity to have fun making “red packetchinese lanterns“!

There are five lanterns featured in this article. Make effort to spend time to learn how to make a chinese lantern for your kids.

There are many stories behind the beliefs that we know today.

red-packet-fish-lanternWhy are the twelve Zodiac animals arranged as they are today?

Legend says that in the past, the animals had a race. The first twelve animals who reached would have the chance to be part of the Zodiac.

When Cat heard about it, she was very excited. Cat shared the good news about the race with mouse. However, Mouse was afraid that he would not be able to be part of the first twelve animals to complete the race, so he tricked Cat into sleeping late.

The next day, Mouse woke up long before sunrise, and hurried to run the race. He was the first animal to reach, and is thus the first in the Zodiac. Animal by animal came. Even Pig managed to wake up early and reached in time to be the twelfth animal in the Zodiac.

tall-lanternWhen Cat awoke and realised that she did not have an opportunity to be part of the Zodiac, she was very angry with Mouse. And that’s why cats are always chasing mice. And that’s how legend says the Chinese Zodiac was created.

During Chinese New Year, children wish their elders blessings, and offer them mandarin oranges (橙). This is an act of sincerity (诚心诚意).

Blessings are exchanged as the younger generation (children and unmarried adults) bless their married siblings and relatives 恭喜发财, 万事如意, 年年有余, 身体健康 and many more.

Parents, relatives and married couples exchange oranges and return the blessing with 快高长大, 读书聪明 etc.

blessings-lanternThere are still many Chinese traditions that build up positive values in children. Apart from the visiting of relatives and friends, and spending time together, Chinese New Year also signifies a new beginning.

A family often spring cleans the house to prepare for new wealth. During the first few days of Chinese New Year, some families do not sweep the floor or dispose of their trash as they don’t want to sweep away the luck and throw away good fortune.

rabbit-lanternI believe that the most important part of welcoming the New Year is the evening before. Often, my grandparents will come home with bags of good things to cook for steamboat dinner. This is a time when the whole family makes time to have dinner together, in the midst of busy schedules.

After steamboat, we will “捞鱼生” and speak of our hopes in the New Year. The elders say that the higher we lift our chopsticks as we “捞鱼生”, the more successful we will be. We just have lots of fun eating, and laughing together.

Tradition says that to wish their parents longevity, children can stay up past midnight on the eve of Chinese New Year. In the name of fun, we do it. What traditions do your family share during Chinese New Year?

How to Make Chinese Lantern : Red Packet Fish Lantern

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

How to Make Chinese Lantern : Circular Fan Lantern

Fold red packet in half, and use a scissor to cut lines along the length. Staple the two ends of the red packet. Roll up a small red packet to make the handle.

How to Make Chinese Lantern : Tall Lantern

Fold triangles at the 4 corners, and then staple the corners.

How to Make Chinese Lantern : Blessing Lantern

Fold triangles at the 4 corners, and then staple the corners.

How to Make Chinese Lantern : Rabbit Lantern

Use 3 square red packets, staple together. Cut the centre of the red packet halfway, and fold triangles rounded at the tip to create the rabbit’s ears. Attach ribbons if desired.

Article written by: Michele See

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