Kids Fun File © Paul & Wendy Potton 1995.
This is a big celebration in China and this year it starts on 10 February. This year is the Year of the Snake.
It is a time to get together with your family and wish everyone good luck in the coming months. In China everyone cleans their houses thoroughly to get rid off any back luck and to make room for all the good luck that the new year might bring.
Fresh flowers are brought into the home to symbolise the coming of spring. The Chinese also like to wear red at new year because it is considered a lucky colour.
The Chinese calendar is a bit like our zodiac and is made up of a cycle of 12 years. Each year is represented by a different animal and (like a horoscope) the Chinese believe that when you are born you will be a bit like the animal of your birth year.
All 12 of the animals which represent the Chinese years are:
CHINESE NEW YEAR
Watch a puppet show of the Chinese New Year story at Cbeebies
Then you can make your own stick puppet of a Chinese dragon with the instructions and template at
If you'd like to know which animal represents your birthday, you can put your date of birth on to: www.topmarks.co.uk/ChineseNewYear
and find your Chinese horoscope.
There are colouring pages of all the different Chinese New Year zodiac animals at: Apples4theteacher.com
There is a printer friendly version of “Happy New Year “ in real Chinese characters for a door banner at About.com
Chinese customs for New Year include hanging red and gold paper down the doors to keep in good luck. These are called Hui Chun. Red is a lucky colour in China and gold obviously represents money!
New Year's Eve is celebrated with a huge family feast. Families will often eat 8 or even 9 different dishes because 8 and 9 are lucky numbers in China (the Chinese take their superstitions very seriously.) Long noodles are eaten because they symbolise a long life. At the end of the meal, sticky cakes and sweets are served. This tradition is inspired by stories of the Kitchen God who is said to tell the Jade Emperor in heaven whether the family has been good or bad this year. The family therefore serves the Kitchen God sweet, sticky foods so that his lips will stick together and he won't be able to tell tales on them!
After dinner the family plays cards with all the lights turned on until midnight. At midnight fireworks and crackers are set off to ward off evil spirits. Lanterns are released to float up into the sky. Traditionally, if you write your wishes on a paper lantern and release it, the lantern will ascend to the heavens and your wishes will come true.
On New Year's Day children are given lucky red envelopes called Hong Bow containing money or sweets and everyone says "Kung Hei Fat Choy!" which means “may you be prosperous” in the new year.
Make your own personalized red Chinese Lucky Money Envelope by clicking on
There’s lots more to discover and explore at theholidayspot.com/chinese_new_year/
Make and colour your own Chinese lanterns by downloading this printable from
Make these easy paper fortune cookies out of baking cases with instructions from Spoonful.com
Shrove Tuesday in the Christian calendar is the last day before Lent. (Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and is the period of time between then and Easter.) As Lent was a time of fasting, Shrove Tuesday became the day when all the fats, eggs, cream and sugar needed to be used up. This is why we traditionally eat pancakes on this day - they are a perfect way of using up all these ingredients.
In the olden days people also had Pancake Races just for fun, where they would run along with their pancake in the pan, flipping and catching it as they ran. In Scarborough they celebrate Shrove Tuesday by skipping with skipping rope) for a mile along the seafront. It sounds such good fun it may inspire you to revive the custom!
There is a very famous poem by Christina Rossetti which celebrates this custom:
“Mix a pancake,
Stir a pancake,
Pop it in the pan;
Fry the pancake,
Toss the pancake,
Catch it if you can!”
In France and other countries, Shrove Tuesday is called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, maybe that's how you feel after too many pancakes!
You'll find a classic Delia Smith recipe for pancakes at: bbc.co.uk/food/recipes
You can make Mardi Gras masks at: Freekidscrafts.com
Pancake Day Joke:
"Waiter, waiter, will my be pancake be long?"
"No, sir, it'll be round and flat like everyone else's".
Valentine's day is always on February 14.
People send a card or present to someone they love on this day. You must not sign the card, though, it's meant to be a secret!
If you really love somebody, you could make them these loving spoonfuls from the recipe at Spoonful.com (where else?)
The trouble is, they look so yummy you may not want to part with them!
The Victorians loved Valentine's cards and they made very elaborate ones. You can find out about this and how to make your own version at crayola.com
You'll be amazed how many animals you can make with heart shapes, like this little mouse, at these printable pages:
RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS WEEK
It’s Random Acts of Kindness Week in America between 11-17 February and I think it’s something we should celebrate too. The people behind this movement believe that kindness is a skill that can be taught to kids and a habit that can be strengthened in adults. We just need to be reminded!
Kindness doesn’t involve great deeds, just lots of tiny ones. You can simply smile at someone, open the door for them, share something, forgive a mistake, thank someone who’s been good to you, offer your seat or let another person go first.
This sums it all up perfectly: “The smallest good deed is better than the greatest intention”.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has an excellent website, where you can download posters, kindness suggestions, bookmarks and little kindness cards to give way (my favourite is the one with Winnie the Pooh’s wise words “A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey inside”)!
If you still need inspiration, you could download February’s kindness ideas calendar and choose one kind deed every day.
Just in case you’ve always believed that kindness gets you nowhere, there’s plenty of research on the site that shows that kind kids are more popular (see this short article) and they even do better academically.
So, do give it a try. At first, you could just commit one Random Act of Kindness a day for the week. You’ll probably be so surprised by the results that you’ll want to keep it up. That’s what happened to the school children in Boulder Colorado, where the RAK Foundation did their research!
WORLD THINKING DAY
World Thinking Day is on 22 February and is a day when Girl Guides learn about their fellow guides around the world, make new friendships and raise money for their designated charities. They chose the 22 February because it was coincidentally the birthday of both Lord Baden Powell (founder of the Scouts) and his wife, Olave, who was World Chief Guide.
This year’s themes are “Together we can change children’s lives” and “Every mother’s life and health is precious” causes which must be close to any woman’s heart!
You can find out more at WorldThinkingDay.org