Lunar New Years is the single most celebrated holiday in the world! All across Asia countries and cultures enjoy this holiday much in the same way we celebrate New Years Eve. Based around the Chinese Zodiac calendar each year ushers in a the reign of a new animal, and depending on the year you were born in you’re assigned a birth animal as well. Students LOVE learning about their own personal animals and what they mean. The holiday is a great chance to expose your students to new countries and cultures!
Lesson Materials can be found here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Lunar-New-Years-Lesson-Activities-3592268
What is Lunar New Years?
Many countries and cultures follow a different calendar than we do in the west, it might not be apparent at first since business happens according to our Gregorian version, but you suddenly notice how big of a deal this alternative calendar is when the new year comes around. It’s called different things in different countries, but essentially the holidays all celebrate the same thing: a New Year! I remember when I lived in South Korea it was the biggest holiday of the year and depending on when it was, you might get an entire week off. You’d travel to your home town and spend it with your family, giving gifts, and eating special foods (like the hearty & warming 떡만둣국)
A common question is why it is on a different date every year, and well it’s actually not, but it seems that way to us. The answer lies in the name. Lunar New Years is based on the cycle of the moon, while the Gregorian calendar is based on the sun, the two seldom line up and so while its always at the exact same time with their calender, its date differs on ours.
One of coolest and most interesting aspects of the holiday is the zodiac calendar. Most people know about the 12 animals, but I learn (through research for this lesson) that it’s actually much more complicated than that. There are over 60 combines, and 2018 will be the year of the Yellow Earth Dog. There’s a history behind the calendar, which almost seemed like an Asian version of an Aesop fable. The students LOVE learning about this history especially what animal that was assigned to their birth year and what it means. Be prepared to answer a lot of questions, luckily I’ve found a great many websites that have almost any answer you’d need!
The Dragon Dance
The activity in this lesson centers around the most popular and important dance of the parade: the Dragon Dance. There are many variations of it, but all are impressive in their own way. A giant dragon, controlled by multiple people, dances and soars through the sky, while all its handlers move in unison. Soon you’re lost it the beautiful display and you hardly notice those controlling it. “To flow like a river” is the goal of the dragon dancers, and its much harder than it looks. You’ll challenge your students to do the same. By some streamers from the dollar store (red and white) and then divide them into 2 teams. Each team is following dance moves (directional arrows) projected to the front of the room. They have to move in unison with their team otherwise the streamers will break! If you ripe or break your streamer you teams loses, and the other is the winner. We had so much fun playing this game, and I’m sure my students are looking forward to the holiday again this year!