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jueves, 26 de enero de 2017

Chinese New Year

Chinese base their calendar on the movements of the moon. New Year's Day can fall between 21 Jan and 20 Feb; for instance, in 2017, New Year's Eve is 27 Jan. It is actually called a spring festival and was the time when farmers and peasants used to rest physically and spiritually before planting their seeds. Children are often given gifts of money "Lai see" and families wear brand new clothes, normally in red to symbolise a new beginning. They have 5-day national holiday.

Before that they decorate their houses and towns with coloured laterns, flowers and do a general cleaning to get rid of old things. This is to throw away bad luck from the previous year.
Among the meals, you will find a chicken dish meaning "happiness for the whole family", while a fish dish means "may there be surpluses every year".

According to their zodiac, it will be the Year of the Rooster. Roosters are said to be trustworthy and responsible with a good sense of timekeeping.

Some things that we have in common is beginning the new year with fireworks and making New Year's Resolutions. On the other hand, if you want to be lucky you should climb high and gaze far.

London has the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia. People on the West End will wish to each other "Xin Nian Kuai Le or "San Nin Faai Lok" either if they do it in Mandarin or Cantonese.
The day starts with a parade -with a 25-metre long dragon and floats- followed by stage performances in Trafalgar Square, with dance troupes, acrobats, and more dragon and flying lion dances -following the music of cymbals and drums-, opera and martial arts to end up with fireworks. During the parade, children represents the twelve animals of the Chinese zoodiac.


Chinatown in London started being formed as we know today in 1950s, when some restaurants opened there. It is located in the West End and it is easy to get around on foot as some of streets don't allow traffic. You will see Chinese gates at the entrances, being the the fourth and latest the one on Wardour Str, the largest one built in traditional Ching Dynasty style.

Other "Chinatowns" in the world can be found in San Francisco, New York, where I bought some Chinese tea, teaware and other goodies

Some activities in class could be:

  • Compare different traditions on New Year's Eve in the English speaking world to those in China.
  • Revise animals and even learn some adjectives describing personality with more advanced students. 
  • Revise the use of future by writing their own New Year's Resolutions.
  • In history class or reading class with legends, check out for different roles and shapes of dragons according to times and cultures. 
  • In Science revise the Moon Phases: New, waning, full and waxing (and crescent vs gibbous)

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