Ancient Roots, Modern Holidays for Kids - Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, Dragon Toes, The Kitchen God, Nian, a very bad monster Illustration

Ancient Roots, Modern Holidays for Kids - Chinese Festivals

For Kids: The ancient Chinese honored their many gods and personal ancestors every day. They believed in magical dragons and monsters. They held many festivals to honor their gods and ancestors. They even held an annual birthday party for ghosts, so ghosts would be honored and remembered too.

Chinese New Year: Chinese New Year started thousands of years ago. It was a festival for remembering ancestors, for feasting, and for giving gifts of "red envelopes" of lucky money. This festival is still observed today. On Chinese New Year Eve, parents encourage children to stay awake as long as possible, because an old ancient Chinese superstition said the longer children stayed awake on Chinese New Year Eve, the longer their parents would live.

Yan Yat - The seventh day of the Chinese New Year is called Yan Yat, "Everybody's Birthday."

Meet the Kitchen God: The ancient Chinese kitchen god was a bit of tattletale. Each year, right before the new year, the kitchen god was suppose to report all the behavior of the household to his boss, the Jade Emperor. The ancient Chinese believed if you left sweets as offerings for the kitchen god on the kitchen hearth right before he gave his report, his report would be glowing! The Jade Emperor would reward the family's good behavior with good luck. Since the kitchen god could not eat these treats, the family could eat them after they were offered to the kitchen god.

Another popular festival was the Lantern Festival. About two weeks after the start of each new year, the ancient Chinese celebrated a holiday named the Lantern Festival. This holiday celebrated the way to a bright and happy future. To celebrate, people would light lanterns and sit out and enjoy the moon. Today, people still celebrate the Lantern Festival. Lanterns are hung in home and school and shopping malls and food markets. Children make paper lanterns at school. The idea of the Lantern Festival has remained the same - to light the way to a safe and happy new year.

Bad Monsters: The Legend of Nian. The ancient Chinese held celebrations to chase monsters away. Sometimes they prayed that monsters would go away on their own, but that rarely worked. It took a festival, a whole village, to solve a monster problem.

Click here to read the ancient story of Nian, a very bad monster who had a very bad day. 

Chinese New Year powerpoint (Donn, cartoon)

Dragon Lore

Chinese New Year Games 

For Teachers

Ancient China Units & Lesson Plans

Lantern Festival

Dragon Lore