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Lunar New Year
(Chinese New Year, Korean Sol-nal & Vietnamese Tet)

The Lunar New Year celebrations (Year of the Dragon) begins on January 23, 2012

The Lunar New Year is an important time for celebrations and fresh starts for many around the world. The Chinese New Year, Vietnamese New Year (Tet-Tet Nguyen Dan) and Korean New Year (Sol-Nal) are filled with similar customs that date back thousands of years, from honoring ancestors to cleaning house to colorful parades.

The Lunar Calendar is based on the movements of the moon, with each month beginning a new moon. The Lunar New Year starts on the first new moon, generally between Jaunuary 21-February 19. January 23, 2012 is the beginning of the year of the dragon.

Like Koreans and Vietnamese, Chinese families rejoice in the New Year over days or weeks with unique food, decorations, and other traditions for good luck in the coming year. Houses are given thorough cleanings, new clothes are bought, debts are paid, and family and friends gather to begin the New Year with a clean slate. It is of great importance to think only the best thoughts and say only kind words to those around you, so that the New Year begins in a positive atmospere. Before the big day, Chinese families paste red scrolls with good luck words such as "peaceful" and "safe" around their houses, and on Year's Day, children receive red envelopes with money inside. They pay respects to their grandparents ten times back, visit friends and family bearing gifts of candies, oranges, and pomelos, and feast on good luck dishes to further ensure prosperous futures.

Firecrackers are set off to drive away evil spirits with loud noises and to anticipate the upcoming parades. Business owners invite lion dancers to come celebrate up and down the streets in the Lion Parade, but the Dragon Parade is the highlight of the festivities. An enormous dragon fashioned out of paper mache is painted in brilliant reds, golds, and greens, and it is thought the dragon comes alive when a martial arts master paints the dragon's eyes. The celebrations end on the fifteenth day when people hang paper lanterns, lit with candles and attatched with riddles, for the Lantern Festival (February 6, 2012).

The Vietnamese New Year, called Tet, lasts from three days to a week and includes much of the same traditions as the Chinese New Year, including a Dragon Dance. To bring extra good luck, a child or relative is sent out just before midnight and is invited to reenter a few minutes later, being the all important visitor of the new year.

Sol-Nal, the Korean New Year lasting for three days, embraces "filial piety". or respecting one's parents. Children make formal bows called "se-bae" to their parents to show their gratefulness to them. They are given "se-bae-ton," money which they keep in a "bok-ju-mo-ni," or good fortune pouch. Games such as Yut and kite-flying contests are part of the festivities, which last until Tae-Bo-Rum, the first full moon festival on February 6, 2012.

No matter how you celebrate, the New Year is a special occasion full of warmth, cheerfulness, and reflection. Most importantly, families and friends of all cultures can keep alive the traditions of coming together to share in the hopes for a new beginning. We hope we can help you celebrate with resource materials and party ideas.

Recommended resources:

Books about Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year
Celebrating Chinese New Year
Lucky New Year! with Flaps, Pop-Ups and More!
Chinese New Year book ($4.95)
Dancing Dragon
D is for Dragon
Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes
Story of Chinese Zodiac

Legends of Ten Chinese Festival
Dumpling Soup (Korea/Hawaiian)
New Clothes for New Year's Day (Korea)

Activity Kits and games
Chinese New Year Activity Book
Chinese Lantern Kits makes 30 lanterns
Fortune Cookies Craft Kit
Chinese Hacky Sacks(Jianji)
Yut - Korean Game
Hwa-Tu - Korean Game
Chinese Red Lucky Money Envelopes
Chinese Yo-yo
Good Fortune Pouches - Korean

Gongs and Drum Celebration Music CD
12 inch Authentic Chinese Gong
6 inch Authentic Chinese Gong

Happy Songs for Chinese Festivals Music CD


Chinese New Year DVD
Families of Vietnam DVD - features Tet celebrations in Vietnam

Dragon Zodiac Rubber Stamp
Happy New Year Rubber Stamp
Happy New Year/Blessings Greeting Cards (Chinese and Korean culture)

Chinese New Year Decoration Garland Set
Paper Dragon Streamer
Ceiling Dragon Decor
Dragon Whirls
Dragon Decorations
Paper Dragon Decor Table Runner

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