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Celebrate Lunar New Year at Home With Tasty Food, Easy Crafts, and Family Fun

The biggest celebration on the planet is officially here! From music and dance to food and creative crafts, welcome the Year of the Tiger with some fun customs and traditions.

Maria Bailey and Sarah Burns

Family Celebrating Lunar New Year

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The biggest celebration on the planet is officially here, as millions of people around the world prepare to ring in Lunar New Year — the Year of the Tiger! Dancing lions and dragons charge through the streets, red money packets are exchanged, and delicious feasts are prepared, featuring special dishes that are said to usher in prosperity and good health. This Lunar New Year is an opportunity to embrace the customs and traditions of an annual worldwide celebration, with activities that make a wonderful introduction to kids who are curious about this special day.

But first, who celebrates Lunar New Year?

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While some refer to the holiday as Chinese New Year, a more common and inclusive way to refer to the festivities is Lunar New Year — the holiday is based on the lunar calendar, and people of Chinese descent aren’t the only ones who observe it! Countries such as Japan, Korea, and Vietnam (to name only a few) celebrate this special holiday between late January and early February — and this year, Lunar New Year falls on February 1.

It’s the Year of the Tiger, but what does that mean?

Lunar New Year Tiger

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According to the Chinese zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao or Shu Xiang, there are 12 animals associated with the different years in which we are born! They are... rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. As legend has it, these animals can reveal certain traits about an individual's personality, career, and even fortune. This year is the Year of the Tiger, an animal that symbolizes individuality, fiery passion, and fearlessness, and it is believed we'll all manifest these traits in the next 12 months ahead. Find your birth year according to the lunar calendar and discover which animal you're associated with and what it says about you!

Hit a virtual Lunar New Year party

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Fun fact: Lunar New Year typically sees the largest annual migration of people in the world, as family members get together to celebrate, and people travel to participate in hometown festivities. But this year will be … well, a little different. (You’re probably used to hearing that by now, right?) In 2022, many families around the world will spend the holiday at home to help curb the spread of the pandemic. 

Fortunately, there are a number of virtual Lunar New Year celebrations taking place that allow everyone to participate in the holiday’s special traditions at home! The Asia Society is hosting a variety of festive events across several days, including dumpling making, red envelope crafting, and a traditional lion dance performance accompanied by the music of beating drums. Be sure to sign up for reminders, so you’re the first to know when these virtual activities are kicking off! 

Make your own dumplings

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Dumplings are just as fun to make as they are to eat, and they’re a big part of many Lunar New Year celebrations. Word is, the more dumplings you eat during the new year festivities, the more prosperous you will be in the year ahead. But who needs an excuse to eat homemade pockets of deliciousness? Head on over to Miss Panda Chinese to make this dish yourself. 

Feast on lucky foods

While you're honing your dumpling making skills, why not try a whole feast of foods that bring good luck? Lucky foods usually have some association with longevity, good fortune, and family. For instance, slurping some long noodles is said to be lucky for a long life, and eating dumplings and spring rolls is said to bring good fortune and wealth because of their resemblance to gold ingots – a former currency in China – and gold bars. From sweet to savory, there’s something for everyone at the table, because a luck-filled feast like this is meant to be shared with family and friends.

Create your own Chinese pellet drum

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Bicultural Mama

For more hands-on fun, create a traditional Chinese pellet drum — a favorite instrument for kids to play as they celebrate the new year! This easy-to-build two-sided drum is perfect for providing your own musical accompaniment at home while you watch a virtual lion dance performance. Go to Bicultural Mama to find out how you can make your own.

Make your own paper lanterns

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Fortune Cookie Mom

Lunar New Year festivities traditionally last for about 15 days before the Big Deal Main Event of the annual celebration: The Lantern Festival on February 15. Lantern Festival Day recognizes the first full moon of the new year, marks the return of spring, and honors the reunion of family! Create your own lanterns with the fam while learning about this special 2,000-year-old festival steeped in history. Go to Fortune Cookie Mom for easy-to-follow steps on how to create your own festive lantern!   

Make a dragon puppet

Red Ted Art Lunar New Year Chinese Dragon Puppets

Red Ted Art

Dragon myths and beliefs can be found all over the world, but this particular Chinese dragon is thought to bring good luck, ward off bad luck, and keep harm at bay. Each year, dragon dancers don elaborate parade costumes, and bring this magical creature to life through vivid colors, and bold movement. Create your own dragon with this amazing printable by Red Ted Art, and busts some moves with your own dragon dance! 

Channel your Year of the Tiger instincts with a DIY mask

First Palette Tiger Mask Printable

First Palette

Embody the spirit of the tiger by becoming one! Manifest those tiger traits with this printable tiger mask template by First Palette. Color, cut out, and wear, and you’ll be feeling the fierceness in no time. 

Take a tiger coloring break

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Skip To My Lou

Coloring isn’t just child’s play; it’s a quiet creative activity that allows our minds to wander, and that wandering time is really good for our brains. If you’ve been feeling unsure of yourself, or letting your pet projects fall by the wayside, this is the year to make changes and to step into your power! Let the tiger lead the way as you fall into your own meditative wandering with a coloring sheet, like this stunning one from Skip to My Lou. Think about all the amazing things you want to do: visualize yourself doing them, and try to imagine each emotion you’ll feel achieving your accomplishments with each new color you choose. When you’ve finished, turn those daydreams into reality with an action plan for the new year!

Celebrate with citrus

Lunar New Year Citrus Tree

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Citrus fruits – particularly mandarin oranges and kumquats – are often given as gifts for the Lunar New Year, and sometimes small fruit trees are decorated and placed in doorways. The words “orange” and “luck” sound similar in the Mandarin language, which is why these special citrus fruits are given as gifts and used as decorations around the home to attract abundance, wealth, and happiness. Happy Year of the Tiger!

First published January 2021, updated January 2022