Lunar New Year Gift Guide

January 17, 2023
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Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, is a traditional holiday that is celebrated by many Asian cultures, including China, Vietnam, Korea, and Singapore. The holiday is based on the lunar calendar, and this year it falls on Sunday, January 22nd. It is a time for families to gather together and celebrate the end of the old year and the start of the new one.

The lunar new year is celebrated over a period of 15 days and has different customs and traditions depending on the culture that is celebrating it. Traditions associated with Lunar New Year include red decorations and lanterns, symbolic foods, fireworks, dragon and lion dances, and exchanging gifts and red envelopes filled with money.

The Lunar New Year is also associated with a different zodiac animal each year. This year will be the Year of the Rabbit. This concept of a zodiac animal is based on the Chinese Zodiac, which has 12 signs, each representing a different animal.

I've been doing a lot of research on the Lunar New Year as I prepare to volunteer in my daughter's classroom and share some of the traditions with the kids in her class.

If you're looking for a way to introduce children to the custom and traditions of Lunar New Year, books with colorful illustrations and engaging stories are a great way to get started: 

Friends are Friends, Forever | Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats | Sam and the Lucky Money | How to Catch a Dragon | The Runaway Wok
  1. Friends are Friends, Forever by Dane Liu is a heartwarming story that teaches children the importance of friendship and kindness. On a snowy Lunar New Year's Eve, it's Dandan's last night with Yueyue. Tomorrow, she moves to America. The two best friends have a favorite wintertime tradition: crafting paper-cut snowflakes. As they say goodbye, Yueyue presses red paper and a spool of thread into Dandan's hands so that she can carry on their tradition. But in her new home, Dandan has no one to enjoy the gift with--until a friend comes along. (This book goes great with a paper cutting craft activity.)
  2. Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats by Jacqueline Jules is the most informative and educational of the books recommended here. It covers not only the Chinese New Year, but other festivals and traditions, including the Mid-Autumn Festival.
  3. Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn is a charming story that teaches children about generosity and the value of kindness. The book tells the story of a young boy named Sam, who receives a red envelope filled with lucky money. Sam is excited to spend the money on whatever he wants on a visit to Chinatown, but after some frustration, he learns the real value of his red envelope money.
  4. How to Catch a Dragon by Adam Wallace is a delightful story for children. The book follows a young boy as he sets out to catch a dragon in order to save his village. This charming story is both fun and educational, making it the perfect gift for children of all ages.
  5. The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine is an exciting and adventurous story that celebrates the traditions of Lunar New Year. The book tells the story of a young boy named Tieng, who sets out to find his family's missing wok in order to make dumplings for the Lunar New Year feast.

LEGO Lunar New Year Parade | tokidoki Lunar Calendar Unicornos Metallico | LEGO LEGO Chinese Festivals: Lunar New Year Traditions
| tokidoki Lunar Calendar Unicorno Metallico Year of the Rabbit Limited Edition | LEGO Lunar New Year Display | LEGO Chinese Festivals: Lunar New Year Ice Festival

I don't recall receiving any gifts as a child for Chinese New Year. But now, I take this as another opportunity to buy gifts for my daughter that celebrate her half-Chinese heritage. Every year, LEGO releases new sets to celebrate the holiday. I purchased a Duplo set for my 2-year old nephew last year, but this year, my daughter will be getting the Lunar New Year parade one.

  1. LEGO Lunar New Year Parade: Build 3 colorful floats with a rabbit leading the way, followed by a drummer and a dragon.
  2. LEGO Lunar New Year Traditions: From food shopping to creating good-luck decorations and watching the new year gala on TV, celebrate the new year in 6 colorful LEGO scenes. With separate instructions to construct each scene, the whole family can build together.
  3. LEGO Lunar New Year Display: Capture many iconic Lunar New Year symbols in 2 stunning display models. Build golden ingots in the traditional Yuan Bao design, moutan peony flowers and more.
  4. LEGO Lunar New Year Ice Festival: This set from the Year of the Tiger will be retiring soon. It features a highly detailed winter scene with a brick-built frozen lake, equipment rental shop, sweet potato vendor’s cart, photo booth, chun ice sculpture, vending machine, penguin-shaped sled, ski slope, snow-capped tree and more.

For a non-Lego gift, my daughter is a figurine-lover and she would go crazy for shiny unicorns dressed up as Chinese zodiac animals.

  1. tokidoki Lunar Calendar Unicorno Metallico Year of the Rabbit Limited Edition: This limited edition collectible is the perfect way to bring a touch of Lunar New Year magic to your home.
  2. tokidoki Lunar Calendar Unicornos Metallico: This blind box series features a Unicorno for each animal of the Chinese Zodiac!

In my daughter's classroom, we'll be celebrating the New Year with readings from a couple of the books above and a paper cutting activity. I found these great printable templates on Etsy for a double happiness character, fish, and flowers. I tried this out in advance with some origami paper and the decorations look great.

Gong xi fa cai!

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