In many cultures, Lunar New Year celebrations are some of the most important days of the year. Lunar New Year 2024 celebrations begin on February 10, which begins the Year of the Dragon. They end about two weeks later, on February 24, known as Lantern Festival in China and some other cultures. Learn about the holiday, including its traditions, foods, and more, with these resources about Lunar New Year for kids to use in 2024.
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Lunar New Year 2024 Explanation for Kids
What is Lunar New Year?
Lunar New Year is a holiday celebrated by countries and cultures that traditionally followed a calendar governed by the moon as well as the sun (lunisolar). It takes place during the first 15 days of the first month of the lunisolar calendar, which lead up to the first full moon of the year. Learn about the Chinese lunisolar calendar here.
Who celebrates Lunar New Year?
This holiday is most commonly celebrated by countries and cultures that traditionally followed a lunisolar calendar, such as China, Vietnam, and Korea. Other places around the world, especially wherever large populations of people from these countries have gathered, also often hold big Lunar New Year celebrations.
Is Lunar New Year the same as Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year is one festival associated with Lunar New Year. But this holiday goes by several names, depending on the country and language of the people celebrating it, such as:
Chinese New Year traditions are probably the best known internationally, but they’re far from the only people who celebrate this time of year. We use the term Lunar New Year to refer to these celebrations collectively.
When is Lunar New Year?
Lunar New Year starts with the arrival of the first new moon in the lunar calendar. It lasts 15 days and ends with the first full moon. The exact dates vary slightly each year due to moon cycles, but the holiday typically falls between January 21 and February 20.
How is Lunar New Year related to Spring Festival?
In China, Lunar New Year is often referred to as “Spring Festival,” since the spring season on the traditional Chinese calendar begins around this time.
How does Lunar New Year relate to the Chinese zodiac?
Each year in the Chinese calendar has a corresponding animal from the Chinese zodiac. In 2024, Lunar New Year starts the Chinese Year of the Dragon. Explore more about the Chinese zodiac here.
Lunar New Year 2024 Traditions
People around the world celebrate the Lunar New Year in many ways. Here are some of the most common traditions, activities, and foods.
In the two weeks leading up to the start of the festival, people spend time thoroughly cleaning their homes, sweeping out the old “bad luck” and preparing for a fresh new year. Once the celebration officially begins, cleaning of any kind on the first day is strictly forbidden.
Huge parades with music, floats, and especially large puppets controlled by people inside are a classic part of many Lunar New Year celebrations. In cities around the world, people gather by the thousands for these events, held both during the day and at night. Highlights of these parades often include the Lion Dance and Dragon Dance.
This is one of the most ancient Lunar New Year traditions, tied closely to the legend of Nian (see below). People attend massive public fireworks displays and set off their own fireworks at home too.
On the final day of Lunar New Year celebrations, the Chinese hold Lantern Festivals (Yuan Xiao Jie). They hang paper lanterns, usually in lucky red, to symbolize driving out darkness and welcoming in the new year with hope.
Hóng Bāo Red Envelopes
In China and some other countries, a red envelope with cash inside is a traditional Lunar New Year gift for young (often unmarried) people. The red symbolizes luck and wards off evil, and the envelopes may also have gold decorations of lucky images or characters too. Learn more about hóng bāo here.
Legend of Nian
In ancient Chinese legend, Nian was a fearsome monster that lived in the mountains and came down at the end of the year to terrorize villages. Eventually, a wise villager realized Nian could be scared off by loud noises, bright lights, and the color red. This led to many Lunar New Year traditions, including fireworks and lanterns. Read the whole story of the legend of Nian here.
Lunar New Year Foods
These foods and dishes are important parts of many Lunar New Year feasts in different countries. Follow the links to find out more about each one. (Note that many of these foods are eaten in multiple countries and cultures, each of which has their own name for them.)
Videos About Lunar New Year 2024 for the Classroom
Share the traditions and cultural significance of this holiday with your students using videos like these. (Always preview videos to ensure they’re appropriate for your intended audience.)
Sesame Street: Happy Lunar New Year Song
When you’re introducing a topic to little learners, there’s no better resource than Sesame Street! Preschoolers will love to sing along to this cheerful Lunar New Year song.
Fortune Tales: The Story of Lunar New Year
Here’s a great explanation of Lunar New Year for preschoolers and early elementary kids. It shares the story of Nian and explains the Chinese zodiac too.
All About Chinese New Year for Kids
We love this Lunar New Year video for elementary kids. It explains the background of this holiday and how it’s celebrated.
Nian: A Lunar New Year Story
Nian is an important part of Chinese New Year and helps explain many of the holidays traditions. Hear the story of Nian in this video.
How the World Celebrates Lunar New Year
This video is from 2022, so it highlights the Year of the Lion. It’s a good way to see how different cultures around the world ring in the Lunar New Year.
Lunar New Year 2024 Kids Books, Activities, Crafts, and Lesson Plans
These books, activities, and craft projects are a fun way to prepare for Lunar New Year. Use them to decorate your classroom as the holiday approaches.
Books About Lunar New Year for Kids
One terrific way to learn about Lunar New Year 2024 for kids is to read books on the topic.
Learn more: Our Favorite Lunar New Year Books and Accompanying Activities from We Are Teachers
Lunar New Year Coloring Page
Celebrate Year of the Dragon in 2024 with this free printable coloring page.
Learn more: Lunar New Year Coloring Page from We Are Teachers
Lunar New Year Art Gallery Visit
Virtually tour the Smithsonian’s collection of art related to the Lunar New Year from various cultures, plus find a few simple DIY craft ideas.
Learn more: Lunar New Year Art Gallery Visit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art
Fire-Breathing Dragon Craft
2024 is the Year of the Dragon, making this clever (and simple!) craft the perfect pick.
Learn more: Fire-Breathing Dragon Craft at One Little Project
Chinese Dragon Puppet
Make these easy puppets, then use them to put on your own Dragon Dance!
Learn more: Chinese Dragon Puppet at Made With Happy
Chinese New Year Red Envelope Craft
One of the most popular Chinese New Year traditions is the hóng bāo, a red envelope of money given to young people. Make your own red envelopes with this template, and decorate them however you like.
Learn more: Red Envelope Craft at First Palette
Flickering Lantern Craft
Lanterns are another big part of Lunar New Year celebrations. Use plastic cups and tissue paper to create your own for the holiday.
Learn more: Flickering Lantern Craft at Activities for Kids
Chinese Pellet Drum
The driving beats of drums are vital to Chinese music and dance. These pellet drums, called bolang gu, are easy to make and a lot of fun to play.
Learn more: Chinese Pellet Drum at Gift of Curiosity
Lunar New Year Lesson Plans and Learning Resources
Use these lesson plans to share more about Lunar New Year around the world with students of all ages.
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