Chinese New Year Fun for the Whole Family

Can you believe it’s almost the end of January already? Lucky for us, that means the Chinese New Year is almost here! This year, the “Spring Festival” – a translation of the Chinese name for the holiday – will fall on February 1, 2022.
春节 (chūn jié): n. Spring Festival (Chinese New Year; Lunar New Year)

You may have heard about some of the traditions that families observe during this holiday, like eating “dumplings (饺子 jiǎo zi)”, “going back home (回家 huí jiā)”, and pasting “couplets (春联 chūn lián)” on doorframes, but there are other aspects of celebrating the holiday that different members of the family do. Today we’ll tell you about 5 different Spring Festival traditions – you can try them with your whole family this year, or just practice the ones for the kids!

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Part I: Ways for the Whole Family to Celebrate

One nice thing about the holiday is taking the time to do activities together as a family, especially when you haven’t been in one place for a while. Here are a few things we’ll be doing during the Spring Festival with our relatives – we hope you’ll give some a try, too!

1. 拜年 (bài nián)

One of the most basic practices this time of year is to visit family and friends you haven’t seen in a while. Of course, some plans may change due to local Covid-19 situations, but there are many ways to make it work!

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拜年 (bài nián): v. to pay a New Year call (to sb.)


jīn nián ràng wǒ men xiàng jiā rén xiàn shàng bài nián.
今   年    让   我    们     向    家  人   线     上     拜   年。
This year let’s pay a virtual New Year call to our family.

wǒ men yào xiān gěi shéi bài nián ?
我    们    要   先   给   谁   拜   年?
Whom are we going to pay a New Year call to first?

2. 祭祀 (jì sì)

Even if you’re not religious, this custom is a good time for thinking about what happened last year, what you want to accomplish this year, and the people that helped you get where you are today. If you want to try something a little more traditional you can burn a few sticks of incense (make sure you do so safely!) and say a prayer or two.

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祭祀 (jì sì): v. to make offerings to the gods or ancestors


zǔ mǔ jiāo wǒ rú hé  jì  sì  jiā xiāng de shén míng.
祖  母  教   我  如 何 祭 祀 家   乡    的   神     明。
My grandmother showed me how to make offerings to my hometown gods.

suī rán wǒ bù qīng chǔ zěn me  jì  sì  zǔ xiān , dàn wǒ jué de xiāng wén qǐ lái hěn hǎo !
虽   然  我  不   清    楚   怎   么 祭 祀  祖  先,     但  我  觉  得    香     闻  起 来  很   好!
Even though I don’t know how to make offerings to my ancestors, I think the incense smells nice!

3. 吃团圆饭 (chī tuán yuán fàn)

It’s no secret that Chinese celebrations often revolve around food, but even though there are some “must-haves” when eating the big meal, the main point is to have family and/or friends with you. In China, this is often when significant others meet their partner’s parents for the first time!

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吃团圆饭 (chī tuán yuán fàn): v. to eat a reunion meal


chūn jié wǒ zuì xǐ huān hé quán jiā rén yī qǐ chī tuán yuán fàn !
春     节  我  最 喜   欢   和   全   家  人 一 起 吃   团    圆    饭!
My favorite part about the Chinese New Year is having a reunion meal with all my family members!

jīn nián de tuán yuán fàn nǐ zhǔn bèi le shén me tè sè cài ?
今   年   的   团    圆    饭  你  准    备  了  什   么  特 色 菜?
What special foods did you prepare for this year’s reunion meal?

Part II: Things for the Kids to Do

Let’s be honest: “adulting” can be tiring! If you need a few moments for yourself, here are some Chinese Spring Festival activities to help your children entertain themselves. All you have to do is set them up and make sure they have proper supervision! A quick note about number one: if you’re not allowed to do it in your area, look in the sample sentences for a more controlled alternative.

1. 放鞭炮 (fàng biān pào)

If you’re not ready for it, hearing hundreds of firecrackers go off at once can be quite shocking. However, when you’re looking forward to it it’s one of the most exhilarating parts of welcome in the New Year! It’s traditionally done to scare away the bad and clear the stage for the good.

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放鞭炮 (fàng biān pào): v. to set off firecrackers


bié qù fàng biān pào , wǒ men zài diàn shì shàng kàn yāng shì kuà nián wǎn huì .
别   去   放    鞭    炮,    我   们   在   电   视     上     看    央    视  跨    年    晚   会。
Instead of setting off firecrackers, let’s watch the CCTV New Year’s Gala on TV.

zhè me duō nián méi yǒu fàng biān pào le , wǒ dōu wàng le biān pào yǒu duō xiǎng le !
这    么   多    年    没   有    放    鞭    炮  了,  我   都     忘   了  鞭    炮   有    多     响   了!
It’s been so many years since I set off firecrackers, I forgot how loud they are!

2. 压岁钱 (yā suì qián)

If you’ve seen nothing else related to the Chinese New Year, you’ve probably seen the red envelopes. Red is a lucky color in traditional Chinese culture, and as in many cultures children get special treatment during the holidays. In this case, they get an envelope full of money! It’s supposed to ward off scary monsters, but we guess it will probably be used to welcome in the candy fairy

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压岁钱 (yā suì qián): n. money given to children as New Year present


jīn nián chūn jié wǒ yīng gāi gěi wǒ zhí nǚ duō shǎo yā suì qián ?
今   年    春    节  我   应   该  给  我  侄  女   多    少   压  岁  钱?
How much money should I give to my little brother’s daughter for the Spring Festival this year?

wǒ huái niàn xiǎo shí hòu néng shōu dào nà me duō zhuāng mǎn yā suì qián de hóng bāo !
我    怀    念    小   时   候    能      收    到   那 么    多      装       满   压 岁   钱   的   红    包!
I miss being a child and getting so many red envelopes with New Year’s money in them!

Here’s the takeaway: You’ve certainly noticed how important people are to this holiday – the Spring Festival doesn’t need to have food, money, or a big fancy TV show, what makes it special are the people we have in our lives. If you want to celebrate the holiday right, make sure the people you love are with you, either in person or virtually, this year!

You May Want to Learn More :

“The Chinese Idiom to Improve Your 2022 New Year’s Resolutions”
“Chinese New Year_Feed This God in Your Kitchen for a Good Year”
”Top 4 Chinese New Year Traditions Explained”

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