by Deanna Flores, Los Dichos Program Coordinator
Lunar New Year provides a wonderful opportunity to focus on the following assets:
• #41 Positive Cultural Identity
• #34 Cultural Competence
• #17 Creative Activities
This celebration begins on the first day of a new moon and continues for 15 days until the next lunar cycle begins. This year the Lunar New Year began on January 23rd and is still underway.
In many Asian cultures, the calendar is based on the lunar calendar, which means it is guided by the cycle of the moon instead of the calendar we use here in the United States which is based on the movement of the earth around the sun. The lunar calendar follows a cycle of twelve years with each year represented by an animal. This year we are celebrating the year of the dragon. In ancient China only the Emperor could wear a dragon on his clothing. The ancient Chinese believed that dragons were a symbol of power, strength, success, luck and honor.
Lunar New Year is a time of celebration that includes feasting with family, fireworks, and gift-giving. Take time to share this holiday with your family. The more we expose our children to various cultures and traditions, the greater the opportunities for them to gain a sense of respect and understanding for the diversity around them. For children of Asian descent – they will begin to feel a greater sense of pride in their own cultural identity and a strong sense of self. This is what asset building is all about – finding opportunities to make children and youth feel valued, respected and seen and inspiring them to respect and value others.
There are many wonderful children’s books that you can share with your children regarding Lunar New Year and the legend of the Zodiac, one book we recommend is The Story of the Chinese Zodiac retold by Monica Chang and Illustrated by Arthur Lee. It is available in English/Spanish, English/Korean, English/Mandarin, and several other languages. It tells the legend of how the animals for each lunar year were chosen.
There are also many wonderful activities you can do with your children to honor the year of the dragon. Here are few fun suggestions:
• Have your children draw and color the head and tail of a dragon, than take a piece of construction paper and fold it like an accordion and staple it to the head and tail. You may also tape it to a straw or popsicle stick in order to wave it in the air.
• Make a Zodiac calendar. Draw and color all the animals in the Zodiac, next cut them out and paste them onto a paper plate. They may choose to color their name in the center of the plate or decorate it with other designs.
• Many additional activities, coloring sheets and bookmarks may be found at: www.ActivityVillage.co.uk
Asset building is simple; we just need to intentionally make time to do it. “Take a second. Make a difference!”