Welcoming Spring Festival!
Chinese New Year is celebrated for sixteen days (from Chinese New Year's Eve to the Lantern Festival). The preparations start seven days before Chinese New Year's Eve. Many celebration activities for this period are traditional customs, but some are quite new...
Here is a daily guide to tell you how Chinese people celebrate Chinese New Year in 2021.
Pre-Chinese New Year Preparations (Jan. 20–Feb. 10, 2021)
Jan. 20, 2021: Laba Festival
Some Chinese start to celebrate and prepare for New Year as early as day 8 of the 12th month of the lunar calendar. This is a festival called Laba ( 腊八 Làbā /laa-baa/ '12th lunar month' + '8'). In 2021, it corresponds to January 20.
Feb. 4, 2021: House-Cleaning
Beginning on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month Chinese people carry out a thorough ‘winter-cleaning’ of their houses.
This is called "sweeping away the dust", and represents a wish to put away old things, bid farewell to the old year, and welcome in the New Year.
Feb. 4–10, 2021: New Year Shopping
Before Chinese New Year’s Eve, people buy New Year’s food and snacks, New Year's decorations, and New Year's clothes. Chinese New Year in China, like Christmas, is a boom time for shopping. However, due to Covid-19, we do not recommend massive shopping this year. Please be careful when shopping for groceries and avoid gathering.
Chinese New Year's Eve (Feb. 11, 2021): 7 Activities and Celebrations
1. Putting Up New Year Decorations
Although some people decorate their houses several days before the festival, most people do it on New Year's Eve. Houses are decorated with red lanterns, red couplets, paper Cutouts, and New Year's paintings.
Putting up those decorations are thought to keep evil away and pray for blessing, longevity, health, and peace. 2021 is the Year of the Ox, so ox images will appear on decorations.
2. Offering Sacrifices to Ancestors
Offering sacrifices to ancestors shows respect and piety. In addition, ancestral spirits are believed to protect their descendants and help them become prosperous.
Many worships on New Year's Eve, before the reunion dinner, to show that they are letting their ancestors "eat" first. Offerings of meat, wine, joss sticks, and joss paper are placed in front of the shrine/grave.
3. Enjoying a Reunion Dinner
The New Year's Eve Feast is a "must-do" dinner with all family members reuniting. Chinese try very hard to make this family event, often traveling long distances. This is the main reason for the huge travel stress throughout China.
Big families including several generations sit at round tables and enjoy the food and time together.
Dishes with lucky meanings must be included in the dinner such as fish, dumplings, niangao (sticky rice cake), and spring rolls. Many New Year foods are symbolic.
4. Watching CCTV's New Year Gala
It's become customary for many families to watch the CCTV New Year Gala while having their dinner. The Gala starts at 8 pm and ends when the Chinese New Year arrives at midnight.
It features traditional, folk, and pop performances from China's best singers, dancers, and acrobats.
5. Giving Red Envelopes (Lucky Money) to Kids
Parents usually give their children red envelopes after the reunion dinner, wishing them health, growth, and good studies in the coming year.
Money in red envelopes is believed to bring good luck, as red is China's lucky color, so it's called lucky money.
6. Staying Up Late
This custom is called shousui (‘to keep watch over the year’). In the past, Chinese people used to stay up all night, but now most stay up only until the midnight firecrackers and fireworks die down.
7. Listening to a New Year Bell
A bell is a traditional symbol of Chinese New Year, and Chinese people believe that ringing a large bell can drive away bad luck and bring good fortune.
At midnight on New Year’s Eve some people like to go to large squares or temples where huge bells are rung. In recent years people have begun to go to mountain temples to wait for the first ringing of a bell in the New Year.
Ways to celebrate Chinese New Year at Home
Clean and de-clutter your home.
It's important to clean your house a few days before the New Year begins to sweep out bad luck and make way for good luck. So get an early start on spring cleaning—wipe dirt off the floors and windows, remove dust from tables, throw out old and broken things (including dishes and bowls), and organize everything from top to bottom.
Decorate the house in red and gold.
Red and gold are lucky colors because they convey happiness and prosperity. Traditionally, paper cuttings and firecrackers, poetry scrolls, and signs with the Chinese character for good fortune are displayed on doors and walls. If there's a Chinese grocery store in your neighborhood, you can look for decorations. Otherwise, purchase red and gold streamers and garlands to hang around the house, or print out images of horses and the good fortune character and glue them onto red/gold papers.Visit Pinterest for DIY Chinese New Year decoration ideas, including these pretty paper rosettes.
Set out some sweets.
It's tradition to eat candies and candied fruit to sweeten the New Year. Buy bags of your favorite candy (or dried fruit and chocolates) at the local supermarket and set them out in small, pretty dishes. Or find a traditional Chinese candy box or bags of red-and-gold wrapped "lucky candy" at local Chinese stores (even Amazon has them).
Give out lucky red envelopes.
Red envelopes filled with money are always given as gifts during the New Year, usually by older, married couples to kids and single adults. If you also can't find red envelopes at a specialty store, pick up some regular red envelopes or make your own from red paper and then decorate them with gold pens and images. Don't break the bank by stuffing envelopes with a ton of money; for kids, a few dollars or coins (including gold-wrapped chocolate ones) would do. Just avoid giving money in fours (4, 14) or odd numbers (5, 7), which is bad luck.
Prepare some meaningful dishes.
You don't have to master any complicated Chinese recipes to eat foods usually found during New Year feasts. Instead, cook simple foods that have special meaning. Fill your table with long, uncut noodles (symbolizing long life), chicken (family unity), fish (abundance), and dumplings (prosperity, because they look like gold ingots). Don't have time to cook? It's fine to order these dishes from a local take-out or to dine at a local buffet.
Have oranges for dessert.
Oranges are a must-have during the New Year because they symbolize good luck, good fortune, and abundance. So pick up some mandarin oranges, tangerines, or clementines at the local market and snack on them during the day or after meals. You can also set them out on plates or in bowls as decoration or give them as gifts (in addition to red envelopes).
Craft your own paper lanterns.
A Lantern Festival, where lanterns are lit, hung, or paraded through the streets, marks the last day of celebrations (when there is also a full moon). Instead of buying lanterns, follow our craft expert's how-to instructions for making crepe paper lanterns and baby food jar lanterns. Just make sure to use red/gold crepe paper or paint as your colors. Or find a lantern project on Pinterest. Insert and secure electric candles or tea lights into the lanterns, hang them up in the yard or the house, and then watch them glow.
Help ASD Kids Make New Year Resolutions
As the New Year is coming, as parents, it is important to help your child make some New Year Resolutions. These resolutions don’t necessarily need to be big ones, it could be something as simple as “trying to follow the teacher's directions” or “being nice to others”. The goal is to encourage your child to make an improvement and give them something they can work towards.
This could be a great opportunity to help your child develop a good habit. Maybe you could consider using the charts created by Christine Reeve for making their resolutions. Remember to praise your child and give them rewards if they achieve their resolutions because it will further encourage the ASD child to continue these behaviors.
It will be great to ask your child to write down their resolutions on a sheet of paper in coloring pens. Then you may help them stick this paper on somewhere that can be easily noticed, for example, on the door of the refrigerator or in front of their bed. Thus, your child can be reminded of their resolutions more often and will be more likely to achieve their goals.
Making resolutions will help ASD children be more focused on improving their behaviors and developing good habits, and as parents, we are responsible for making sure they are consistent in achieving their resolutions. Aside from making a big New Year resolution, you could also help your children make a small goal every week or every month to help them be more concentrated on doing something.
Now the Winter Break has almost come to an end, so this will be a great time to help your child shift their focus on studying and learning something new. New Year is a wonderful time to make resolutions and improvements, and it is time for looking forward to something new.
5 Ways to Prepare Kids with ASD for the New School Year
Set And Adjust Education And Transition Goals
The beginning of the year is the right time to revisit your education and transition plan. Not only because it’s a great way to prepare kids with ASD for the new school year, but it’s an opportunity to reconvene the transitional team and readjust your goals. Students with autism benefit from transitional goals that outline their progress through school and their goals for their post-education lives. One of the best ways you can get everyone on the same page and prepare kids with ASD for the new school year is by connecting with your educational plan team. Support Your Child’s Social Circle
2. Support Your Child’s Social Circle
One of the most exciting things about going back to school for young students is the opportunity to see old friends and make some new ones. Parents and teachers can prepare kids with ASD for the new school year by supporting and encouraging social encounters with old and new friends. Does your child have a group of friends at school that they haven’t seen much of the summer? Get them ready for the school year by getting them excited to see their buddies. Does your child need to make friends at school? Sometimes it’s harder for kids with ASD to build social relationships, but direct discussion between students and teachers about what situations kids are most uncomfortable with can provide opportunities to make new friends.
3. Prepare A Student One-Page Profile
One suggestion to prepare kids with ASD for the new school year is to create a one-page profile of your student that can be used as an introduction for new staff and teachers. This should be a summary that breaks down what your student likes and dislikes, what sensory issues they might struggle with and other things like that. This profile should also focus on what their strengths are and the areas in which they excel so staff and teachers can adjust their learning model to help your student excel. If you are visiting the school for the first time, this is a great time to hand out a profile to teachers and staff.
4. Get Some New Threads
Along with establishing a working and positive routine for both mornings and nights, another way that you can prepare students with ASD for the new school year is to make sure that their clothing will not distract them from learning. Kids with autism often have different tactile sensory preferences and you can help them concentrate by helping them find comfortable clothing. Make school shopping fun if you can in order to build excitement for the coming year.
5. Start the New Year Fresh
Every new school year is filled with new opportunity. A huge way that you can help kids with ASD prepare for the new school year is to remember that this is a new year. Shed the emotional, physical and mental baggage of a previous school year and focus on the growth that can and will happen this year. Together, teachers and parents can help prepare kids with ASD for the new school year by encouraging young students to see the opportunity that comes from a new educational chapter.