Introduce your kids to Chinese customs with these family-friendly activities, like DIY "fireworks" and good-luck dishes. Gong Hey Fat Choy!

By Grace Gavilanes
Corbis Photography/ Veer

The Legend

The start of Chinese New Year is determined by the Chinese calendar, a hybrid of the Gregorian and lunar-solar calendar systems. Because the track of the new moon changes from year to year, Chinese New Year can begin on any date between late January and mid-February. January 31, 2014 will mark the start of Chinese New Year--more specifically, the year of the horse. According to legend, Buddha asked all of the animals to meet with him on Chinese New Year. When twelve animals showed up, Buddha named a year after each of them.

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Red Fortune

During Chinese New Year, goody-packed red envelopes (called ang pow) are often distributed to family members. The red color of these packets symbolizes good luck; receiving the packets promises a long life of prosperity and good health. Let your cuties create their own envelopes with red construction paper. Fill them with tiny trinkets like red bracelets, stickers, and candy.

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Mommy-Approved Sparklers

Fireworks are a major highlight of the Chinese New Year's celebration. Create safe, simulated fireworks in a glass with your kids.

What You'll Need:

  • Water
  • Oil
  • Food coloring
  • 2 tall, clear glasses
  • Fork

Make it:

Fill a glass with warm water and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil. Let your child add a few drops of food coloring--the more colors, the better--then stir the mixture with the fork to break up the food coloring drops. Pour the oil and coloring mixture into another glass and watch these underwater "fireworks" explode!

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Orange You Hungry?

In some areas of China, oranges are a popular gift during the New Year. This is because "orange" in Chinese sounds like "Ji," which means "good luck." Incorporate this lucky fruit into your family's breakfast, lunch, and dinner with these tasty recipes:

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Crafty Lanterns

This year, Chinese New Year celebrations conclude on February 14, with the Lantern Festival. Help your child make her own paper lanterns by following the step-by-step instructions on

Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation. Updated in 2014.

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