by Karen Reinhart

1302081As many of you may know, Sunday, February 10th marks the start of a new year in the Chinese calendar. What you may not know is that this celebration is also known as the “Spring Festival.”

We were lucky to have one of our parents visit our classroom to explain this very important holiday. We learned that each year is represented by one of 12 different animals – horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, rat, ox,tiger, rabbit, dragon, and snake. This year will be the year of the snake. Our class (all born in 2008) were thrilled to learn they are born in the year of the rat.

She told us how children help in the days leading up to the New Year to give the house a thorough cleaning to clear out all the old and get ready for the new. When the new year comes everyone dresses in special red clothes and the children bow to their elders who then give them a special envelope filled with money. All of the children practiced the bow and received an envelope with a coin. The children also received a special chocolate wrapped in gold foil and shaped like ancient Chinese money.

The New Year celebrations traditionally continue for 15 days when the Lantern festival begins.

Gong Xi Fa Cai
(gong she fa chai)