10 fun ways to celebrate Lunar New Year with kids
— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
The Lunar New Year is upon us! This special holiday celebration marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendars traditional to many East Asian countries, including China, South Korea, and Vietnam. Whether it’s called Chinese New Year, Losar, Seollal, or Tết, Lunar New Year is celebrated by more than 1.5 billion people across the globe.
In China, the festival lasts 15 days, starting with a large feast on the night of its New Year’s Eve (this year it’s Tuesday, February 1) and ending with the Spring Lantern Festival (Feb. 15). Vietnam's Tết Nguyên Đán is celebrated for a week, and South Korea’s Seollal celebration is three days long.
However long your culture chooses to celebrate, Lunar New Year is a holiday filled with family-oriented traditions that honor good fortune and new beginnings. Here are some ideas for how you and your family can celebrate.
►Lunar New Year 2022:What does the holiday and the Year of the Tiger represent?
1. Don some new red duds
In Asia, red is considered the color of luck and of joy. A new outfit symbolizes new beginnings, and if it’s red those beginnings are sure to be filled with good fortune.
Red clothes are also said to scare away evil spirits and invite good fortune for the year to come, so sport some scarlet from head to toe!
- Get the Red Brocade Dress at H&M for $34.99
- Get the Year of the Tiger embroidered red vest at H&M for $24.99
2. Deck the halls with red and gold
The color of good luck and happiness shouldn’t be relegated to the clothing alone. Deck the halls in crimson as well—and combine it with gold while you’re at it.
While red is for luck and joy, gold—unsurprisingly—symbolizes wealth and prosperity. Combining the two colors is a welcome mat for good fortune and prosperity in the New Year. This garland and balloon combo sets a shimmering stage that's sure to ring in an auspicious start to the New Year.
3. Learn an ancient art form
A fun and kid-friendly activity is the Chinese art of Jianzhi, a highly ornate paper cutting art that takes decades of disciplined practice, but—at its heart—is similar to cutting out paper snowflakes.
All you need is some red paper and some scissors to make these festive red Chinese New Year decorations. Like snowflakes, no two paper cutouts are exactly alike, so kids can make their own special statement in what they create.
- Get the 50-sheet red construction paper pack at Michaels for $2.49
- Get the handmade Chinese paper cuttings at Amazon for $8.80
4. Have a lucky dinner
A lucky dinner, filled with dishes that hold symbolic meanings, makes an auspicious start to the lunar year. Poultry represents unity and loyalty. Whole fish represents prosperity and abundance. Shrimp dumplings and pork dumplings represent prosperity, while the “longevity noodles” are meant to honor and encourage a long and happy life.
A full lunar New Year dinner is filled with intention and meaning. There are dozens of cookbooks for inspiration, but you can also make dinner come to you via Goldbelly. With options to order from such places as the legendary Momofuku and the renowned Jing Fong in New York’s Chinatown, you are sure to have an impressive spread that will ring in a prosperous year.
5. Fill some little red envelopes
During that lucky dinner, be sure to hand out traditional red envelopes or hóng bāo in Mandarin and lai see in Cantonese.
These small red and gold packets are especially for children and contain money as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Children are expected to spend the money within the year, so this sum shouldn’t go into their savings account. Instead, let them spend it on something that brings them joy.
Avoid giving coins, and try to give money in even amounts.
6. Make your own dragon dance
If you’re not able to get out and see the annual dragon dance at a Chinatown near you, bring the festival home. Dragons symbolize strength, power, dignity, and luck and are said to drive away evil spirits. Pull out the toy drums and cymbals and make your own dragon marionette, like this one from the Made With Happy blog.
Or, if you'd rather have a DIY kit, this one by Boao has everything you need for a speedy yet fun family craft.
7. Create some fireworks
Fireworks are a huge part of any Lunar New Year celebration. They are symbolically used to chase away evil spirits and welcome in the New Year with a powerful spark. While you can’t light fireworks off at home, you can certainly make this fun firework craft by Kid’s Craft Room.
We also like this vibrant and sparkly craft by Baker Ross that you can buy on Amazon. Six come in a pack and can be quickly assembled. Just add imagination for the firework "display."
8. Have a mini lantern festival
The Lunar New Year celebration ends this year on Feb. 15 with the Spring Lantern Festival. If you aren't able to attend one at your local Chinatown, you can definitely celebrate at home with a kid-friendly craft, or by buying these festive ones to hang with designs that celebrate spring.
9. Learn the Chinese zodiac
We know it's the Year of the Tiger, but what does this actually mean? The 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac represent years, not months like they do in the Western zodiac. While both types of zodiac discuss personality traits, the Chinese zodiac puts emphasis on generational differences, whereas the Western zodiac focus on psychological ones.
This clever book has a young girl named Ruby meeting with each of the animals that represent the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac. In it she learns each of their personality traits, their moral journeys, and what makes them unique to one another. It's a great explanation and primer to the meaning behind this tradition and gives insight into how we celebrate each Lunar New Year with respect to the animal it honors.
10. Take a trip to China (without leaving home)
Little Global Citizens ranks as one of our editors’ favorite subscription boxes, and there’s good reason why. It’s a fully immersive experience in global cultures.
A trip to the Far East may not be in the cards, but we can teach our kids about the world with one of this company's award-winning kits. The China culture kit comes with authentic guides, informative books, inspired crafts, and a whole lot of fun screen-free activities to get kids involved, informed, and learning.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.