Wednesday, February 21, 2007

CNY Songs on YouTube

Some cute Happy New Year songs in Mandarin:

Chinese New Year Song 01 (with Chinese subtitles)

Chinese New Year Song (02)

Chinese New Year Song (04)

Chinese New Year Song (05)

Please check that you have your parent's permission to watch these on YouTube before you click.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Celebrating the Chinese New Year e-book

The China School in New York City has a cute e-book, titled Celebrating the Chinese New Year available for free - and the promise of more coming. It is also available through the China Initiative.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Happy New Year's Eve!

Chinese New Year is probably celebrated by a quarter of the world now and is the biggest celebration of the Chinese community.

In addition to the 12-year zodiac animal cycle, there is a cycle of five elements making a 60 year cycle. This year was a Red Dog year and tomorrow will be a Red Pig or a Fire Pig year. This year is Dīnghài 丁亥, the 24th year of the Sexagenary Cycle (1887, 1947, 2007, etc.) I think we started hearing more about the bigger cycle in 2000, a "Golden Dragon Year". (Yes, I heard the odd rumor of it being a “Golden Pig” but it is just a rumor, perhaps started by some fortune tellers in Korea. No folklorists will support it.)

Monday, January 29, 2006 started a Red (Fire) Dog Year, 4704
Sunday, February 18, 2007 begins a Red (Fire) Pig Year, 4705

The next 12-year cycle starts on:
Thursday, February 7, 2008 with a Brown (Earth) Rat Year, 4706.

A Fire Pig year is good for expanding families and businesses. Feng shui experts say that this Year of the Pig will be a turbulent year and not peaceful, but it may be a good year for scholars.

In Japan I have been told that 2007 corresponds to Heisei 19, and while it is also a year of the Pig for them, many reports say they prefer the “Year of the Wild Boar”.

(I hear that that a golden pig year might not be so good for expanding businesses.) The Year of the Dog was supposed to be a good year to be married – but I have learned that in some parts of China, the divorce rate went up too, especially for newly married! Perhaps some who rushed into marriage for the year of the dog(?) decided it was a mistake. Regardless, they are no longer married and don’t have to decide whether it would be good for them to have a child this year.

China Daily reports that it may not be the best year to have a child in China. "Many couples are planning to have children during the next lunar year in anticipation of good luck, but the Year of the Pig baby boom may result in a rise in population that will affect children's future education, job prospects and even retired lives.” (Or see a China empire's prettier post of the same article.)

Bill Hadju, at Chinese says that "Health issues vary not only by sign but by individual. Your best bet is to visit a Chinese doctor to have your balances checked and get some advice for the coming year. It is a Fire year, so one thing we can say in general is to be on the lookout for signs of stress and a tendency to overextend one's self." Not bad advise for many of us - in any year!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Spring Festival Prep Pictures

A few photos from Xin Hua Net:

Gold Pigs Deliver Blessings: Three "golden pigs" deliver blessings in a parterre in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, Feb.7. The Chinese lunar New Year will fall on Feb.18, and this year is the Year of the Pig in China. (Cnsphoto)

Spring Festival, lunar New Year coming

Folk culture fair for Spring Festival
(another snap of the sugar painting-lollipops that I love to see)

New Spin on Old Tricks

Steve Whan's Focus on Culture consistently delivers interesting child-friendly articles. This week's selection includes: New Spin on Old Tricks about the members of the China National Acrobatic Troupe.

"The world's best acrobats had returned to their motherland and were preparing for the upcoming series of shows during the Spring Festival season in Tiandi Theater.

It is rare to see so many Chinese acrobatic stars together because for most of the year they are scattered across the world delighting audience with their breathtaking feats.

Now they're back in Beijing bringing the traditional Chinese acrobatic classic tricks they used to thrill foreign audiences. There are contortionists, plate spinners, wirewalkers, hoop divers, diabolo players, vase balancers, ball jugglers and bicycle riders. "The whole performance will be filled with a jolly holiday atmosphere," said Lei Mingxia, acting director of The Return of The Spirit." To read the rest. . .

I was especially interesting in what one performer said about how the Chinese Yoyo is used - in China versus abroad (where it is more likely to be called a diabolo).

You can see a Chinese Yoyo clip at CCTV 2007 Chinese New Year Celebration: Acrobatics.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

In the schools - 2007

Lots of lunar calendars going to school . . .

Laurie's taking it in for some first graders. Cathy's doing both her boys' classes! Pat took the calendar, a book & a craft in. Beth's using the calendar and coloring pages. Martha's talking to 5th graders. Linda's going in for her 5th year. Jean's a teacher and she'll have 6th and 7th graders make up their own calendar system.

This year, I'm celebrating Chinese New Year with a homeschoolers from kindergarten to 6th grade.
They'll have craft stations for: Paperfolding Pigs, Chun (spring) paper cut, making lanterns, Chinese double knot, and finger counting. (Some of the older students are running the stations!) We'll have a discussion of holidays in general (food, family gathering, ...) before learning about the lunar calendar and Chinese New Year. After a New Year's feast of noodles and jiaozi, some students will be putting on a play based on Eric Kimmel's The Rooster's Antlers. Then I'll teach some Mandarin songs and we'll close with a lantern parade.

Stephanie plans to talk about Chinese New Year and the lunar calendar to a group of 1st and 2nd year olds. Then the plan is to darken the room and try to show how the phases of the moon are created with some balls and a flashlight!

Charlie is going in again this year - Last year the kids loved it, especially the panda project and trying to eat popcorn with chopsticks. We talk about China a little in addition to the New Year's celebration. We'll show portions of 2 videos, sing the Ni Hao song, and read a children's book titled, My First Chinese New Year. We'll also teach them to count to 10 in Chinese.

I am sure that Beth is going in again but I don't know her specific plans.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Kitchen God reports - tomorrow

This year the Kitchen God returns to heaven on Monday, February 12th, 2007 (on the 24th day of the 12th month of the lunar year), to report to the Jade Emperor on the family's behavior during the past year. (If you still need a lunar calendar, you can send email to to get a pdf version for 2007.) Some say that his picture is burned on the 23rd and he reports on the 24th.

Traditionally Chinese families made offerings to send him off so that he will provide a good report. Some families worship the Kitchen God with offerings of homemade candies, rice cakes, dates, walnuts and fried beans. They may also burn fodder as a symbolic way to feed the Kitchen God's horse. Some families made additional offerings of sweets or of sweets or smeared honey on his lips so he would say sweet things to the Jade Emperor about the family. In some families, he was fed sticky things (like nian gao rice cakes) so that he can not say much of anything! (Think about how much you can say with a spoonful of peanut butter in your mouth.)

Herbal Shop's sticky cake recipe

Each year, each family needed to get a new (paper picture of the) kitchen god - the old one was burned and his messages went up with the smoke. The Kitchen God is guardian of the hearth, inventor of fire and censor of morals, and he is made of paper or other materials that burn easily. Most practicing families do not replace it until t New Year's Day, so for one week, there is no kitchen god, his place is empty.

This year someone said that if we were only going to buy (or make) 3 things for Chinese New Year, they should all be paper:I don't know - we really like eating (long noodles, jiaozi, citrus) and having hong bao to give to children.