Chinese New Year is the most revered holiday in China and is also celebrated in many other regions within East Asia. Also called Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, this festival spans 15 days. Families celebrate with food, gifts, activities and family get-togethers. To celebrate Chinese New Year in your home, here are recipes, crafts and activities that both kids and adults will enjoy!
SPECIAL CHINESE NEW YEAR RECIPES (4-6 servings each)
Kid-Friendly Long Life Noodles
- 1 lb. fresh Asian-style long life noodles, either rice or wheat
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup finely diagonally sliced green onions
- 1/2 cup peanut butter added in Step 2 (optional)
- Cook noodles according to package directions, without oil and salt. Rinse with cold water, drain and set aside.
- Combine all remaining ingredients except green onions in a small bowl. Stir until mixed.
- Add mixture to noodles while gently stirring.
- Sprinkle green onions on top of noodles and serve either hot or cold.
Soy Sauce and Ginger Chicken
- 1 large whole chicken
- 8 large cloves garlic
- 1-2 tablespoons peeled, sliced fresh ginger plus 1 teaspoon peeled and diced fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili oil, to taste
- Green onions or cilantro for garnish
- Boil 5 quarts of water in large pot with 5 cloves of garlic and sliced ginger.
- Put the whole chicken in the water, return to boil and simmer for 1 hour.
- Drain, cool, remove skin (optional) and cut chicken into pieces.
- Finely crush the remaining garlic and diced ginger. Add soy sauce, vinegar and chili oil to form a marinade.
- Toss the chicken pieces in the marinade and keep in refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.
Auntie Lili’s Festive Almond or Mango Jello
- 3 tablespoons Knox unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon almond extract
- 5 cups milk
- Mangos or mandarin orange slices for serving (optional)
- Mix the gelatin into 1 cup of cold water.
- Boil the sugar in 3 cups of water until it dissolves, then pour it into the gelatin mixture.
- Add the almond extract and milk. Stir well.*
- Pour the mixture into serving size bowls or a jello mold.
- Serve with sliced mangoes or mandarin oranges if using.
* To make mango jello, add 2 cups of pureed mango before Step 4.
Serving Suggestion: The center of the plate contains the mango jello with almond jello surrounding it. A small cupcake baking pan can be used as a mold for the almond jello.
CRAFTS AND ACTIVITIES
Lucky Red Envelope
Jennifer DeCristoforo writes, “Giving lucky money (hong bao or lai see) is a Chinese traditional custom. When the lunar new year is coming and especially on New Year’s eve, elder generations always give lucky money to young children expressing their best wishes to them. Symbols of wealth and luck are often on the outside.”
Customs for Red Envelopes: Use crisp new bills when giving money, offer with both hands, receive with gratitude and don’t open in front of the giver, and young children are usually given less money than older children and teens.
- Glue stick
- Copier machine
- Red bond paper 8.5 x 11”
- Copy black and white template as pictured below on to red bond paper (you can reduce the size and do two per page if necessary).
- Cut out contour of envelope.
- Fold crease at the center and on the dotted lines by the flaps. The design should be on the outside.
- Fold in the panel and glue down the side flap, then bottom flap to form envelope. Don’t forget to leave the top flap open to insert gift money before sealing.
Bonus: Find a free printable for the Year of the Goat at www.luckybamboocrafts.com.
Chinese New Year Activity Book
The Chinese New Year Activity Book [Penguin Group] by Karl Jones is a great way to not only teach children about this important cultural holiday, but also to keep them busy for hours.It’s chocked full of information about the holiday, explaining the traditions alongside beautiful illustrations.
Kids can have fun with games and mazes, create indoor “fireworks” and pinwheels, and cook up steamed Chinese dumplings with an easy to follow recipe. Press-out lion and dragon masks and lion dance pieces make the holiday come to life. The book also includes two full pages of Chinese New Year stickers for kids to decorate their crafts.
To purchase, please visit Amazon.com. Paperback $8.99.