Photo courtesy of China News
While most of us are still working on the New Year’s resolutions we made just weeks ago, it’s already time to say Happy New Year again as we celebrate Chinese New Year.
The Chinese calendar follows no fixed date and the new year is determined by the moon. This year, Chinese New Year begins on Jan. 22 with Lunar New Year’s Eve.
The new year, number 4710 on the Chinese calendar – officially begins Jan. 23 and marks the beginning of the Year of the Dragon.
According to legend, Buddha asked all the animals to say goodbye to him when it was his time to leave the earth.
But only 12 animals showed up for the farewell so to honor them Buddha assigned an animal to each of the years in a 12-year cycle.
The legend states that the rat was the first to arrive and so got the first year in the cycle.
The cat failed to show up at all and that is why there is no year of the cat.
Some people believe that you share personality traits with the animal assigned to the year you were born. If you are born in the year of the dragon, you are thought to be brave, enterprising, and quick-tempered.
For educational activities on Chinese New Year and Chinese culture, check out Apples4theteacher.com.
For a KidCulture reading list about Chinese New Year, click here.
Learn more about how families celebrate Chinese New Year around the world with this KidCulture article, Global Family Fun: Celebrate Chinese New Year.
Most people immediately think of sushi when they think of Japanese restaurants, or even hibachi restaurants. If you’ve been there, tried that, consider choosing something new next time you’re in a Japanese restaurant.
I admit that one of my proudest moments as a mother and amateur chef was the day my son tried sushi for the first time. Still, I understand that sushi is not everyone’s idea of a good time. So if you’re eager to introduce your child to new foods, start with something simple.
For example, gyoza are delicious Japanese dumplings that are often served with raw, diced vegetables.
Noodles are usually a big hit with kids. If your children are adept at spaghetti, try them on soba noodles, which are made from buckwheat flour and served either in a soup or with a dipping sauce on the side. Be careful – the dipping sauce can be spicy.
Udon noodles are wheat-flour noodles that are usually served in a soup paired with tofu, shrimp, and vegetables.
Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong. Japanese food is thought to be among the healthiest in the world. Just watch out for the tempura.
Not only is Korean food fun to pronounce, it’s delicious to eat.
Although Korean food is less well known than Japanese and Chinese food, according to food experts, it’s set to be the hot new cuisine in 2011.
Adults trying Korean food for the first time may want to choose items that are similar to foods they already know and like. Tangsuyuk is like sweet and sour chicken. Kalbi is beef on the bone, similar to spare ribs.
For adults who love spicy food, try kimchi jigae, a spicy stew.
For children, mandu soup is a great place to begin because it’s similar to wonton soup. If they’re willing to try tofu, it’s a great, healthy choice. Tofu is flavor-friendly; with just a little soy sauce it’s similar to eating plain rice.
Bim Bim Bap is also a good choice for children because you can control the spiciness.
If they’re into noodles, ramyan are thin noodles served with broth.
There are few better – or cheaper – ways to introduce your child to other cultures than through food.
With so many great ethnic restaurants, it’s easy for parents to get children accustomed to foods from different countries from an early age.
However, parents may be unsure of what to order that’s kid-friendly.
In honor of Chinese New Year, which runs February 3-15, over the next few days KidCulture will provide some suggestions to help parents choose food in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese restaurants.
In each of these countries, people celebrate Chinese New Year by sharing good food with their families and friends – and that’s a custom worth adopting.
So stay tuned for some fresh, fun, food ideas to help you introduce your child to other cultures.
Here are some suggestions for children’s books about Chinese New Year. Enjoy!
Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn, Cornelius Van Wright, and Ying-Hwa Hu
My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz
Happy Chinese New Year, Kai-lan! By Lauryn Silverhardt, Jason Fruchter, and Aka Chikasawa
Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap Book by Joan Holub and Benrei Huang
The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale by Ying Chang Compestine and Sebastia Serra