Chinese New Year Celebrations for Kids and Families

You’ve packed away the last of the Christmas decorations, started tackling your New Year’s resolutions and managed to get the kids back into the swing of things (more or less). But wait! The party’s not over yet. The Chinese New Year–or “Spring Festival” as it is now known–is just around the corner, and we think you’ll love celebrating its rich and colorful traditions with the kids. We’ve compiled some exciting local events to help you ring in the Year of the Dog as a family.

Want to learn more about these holidays? The Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, and Tết are all considered spring festivals. The following is taken from Wikipedia to give those of us without Asian ancestry some insight.

Chinese Lunar New Year
Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year vary widely. Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of “good fortune” or “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity”. Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes.

Vietnamese New Year (Tết)
Many Vietnamese prepare for Tết by cooking special holiday food and cleaning the house. These foods include bánh chưng, bánh dày, dried young bamboo soup (canh măng), giò, and sticky rice. Many customs are practiced during Tết, such as visiting a person’s house on the first day of the new year (xông nhà), ancestor worship, wishing New Year’s greetings, giving lucky money to children and elderly people, and opening a shop.

photo courtesy of Navy Pier

Chinese New Year Celebrations for Kids and Families

Garfield Park Conservatory
February 2018 
Celebrate the Year of the Rooster with hands-on activities, traditional Chinese dance performances, and wishes for the New Year! Create a festive lantern, attend a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, discover their Chinese Zodiac animal, and participate in a kids’ Dragon Dance.

Chinese-American Museum of Chicago
February 17, 2018 
Join the museum in celebrating the year of Dog! Enjoy watching a lion dance and learn about its history, participate in arts and crafts projects, and enjoy delicious food.

Chicago Symphony Center
February 17, 2018 | 3:00 pm
Bring the entire family to Symphony Center for a splendid musical celebration of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dog in 2018. Chongqing Chuanju Opera Theatre showcases the dazzling costumes and acrobatic choreography of traditional Chinese opera, performing selections including The Taming of the Gambler and Jin Shan Temple. Zhejiang Symphony Orchestra spotlights traditional Chinese instruments in colorful orchestral arrangements of Chinese folk melodies and favorites from China’s Zhejiang Province.

Year of the Dog
February 17, 2018 | 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Learn about celebrating the Chinese New Year with treats, stories and a craft at the Palos Park Public Library.

Fashion Outlets of Chicago (Rosemont)
February 18, 2018 | 1:00 – 5:00 pm
Enjoy a plethora of free activities, including Chinese cultural performances, Chinese calligraphy, lantern making, a photo booth, fortune telling, mask making and more.

Cai Restaurant 
February 20, 2018 | 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dog with a traditional Lion Dance, US Postal Service Year of the Dog Stamp Dedication ceremony and feast on a twelve-course meal featuring specially prepared traditional Chinese new year dishes! Cash bar available. Kid-friendly; $75 per person.

Navy Pier
February 24, 2018 | 1:00 – 5:00 pm
Celebrate the Chinese New Year with traditional food, music and arts in the Aon Grand Ballroom.

Argyle Lunar New Year Celebration
February 24, 2018 | 1:00 – 2:30 pm
The annual Argyle Lunar New Year Parade is decades-old local tradition. Come for music, colorful lion dances, and more! Come along with a processional of local groups and floats starting at the Argyle EL stop – all to celebrate the start of the new Lunar Year, the year of the Dog! 

Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade
February 25, 2018 | 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Everyone is invited to Chicago’s Chinatown on Sunday, February 25, 2018 to watch the annual Lunar New Year parade at 1:00 p.m.. The parade will kick off at 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue. The procession will head north up Wentworth to Cermak Road. The parade will feature marching bands, colorful floats, traditional lion dances and a special appearance by Ronald McDonald.

About the Author

Sara Heiserman
Sara is a small town girl who spent several years as a writer in the big city before heading out to the ‘burbs with her hubby to raise their growing family. Charmed by Lemont’s picturesque landscape and genuine hometown pride, Sara loves that there’s always something fun to do or see nearby with her 5- and 3-year old sons and 1-year old daughter. In warmer months, Sara and her crew enjoy playing on the family farm, splash pad hopping and catching Movies in the Park. In cooler months, she plans lots of play dates to keep everybody sane and indulges her creative spirit, crafting, baking and home decorating.

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