When we were kids and Mom kept the Christmas tree up until well into January, she would point out, "The twelve days of Christmas start on Christmas Day." And so it is that we are still well within the 15 day window to continue our celebration of Chinese New Year, even if it does get all mixed up with our Valentine's Day preparations.
For one thing, when we learned that lion statues are often used to "guard" the doors of Chinese homes against "bad luck" (I'm using that expression instead of "evil spirits") we wanted our own guards, although ours were going to be giant painted dragons.
We made several of these dragons in both the 3-5's and Pre-3's classes, mounting our step stools to apply the finishing touches . . .
. . . but only one painting survived (because we adults whisked it away in time) to actually stand guard.
We've also continued to enjoy wearing our dragon/lion head, much to the delight and awe of our friends.
But I did learn that the teacher cannot wear the head in a room full of 2-year-olds. There were quite a few startled faces until I lifted it up over my head so that my entire face was exposed, and carried it around that way. Even so, I didn't like the expressions the kids made as their teacher roamed the room that way, so I left it entirely to the kids. The older children in the 3-5's class, however, knew it was Teacher Tom under there and thought it was big fun.
And then there were our red good luck banners to paint in our best Chinese writing . . . or to just paint entirely black for "midnight good luck wishes."
Have you ever wondered why the Chinese consider the color red to be so lucky? Well, we learned about that and the deployment of firecrackers from Chinese dance teacher and storyteller Melody Xie, who came to visit us. She told a story about a monster named Nian from long ago who came down from the mountains once a year to eat people, including children! As you can imagine, we were riveted. Its only weaknesses, apparently, were that it was afraid of the color red and loud noises, hence it was manifestly quite a lucky thing to be wearing red on New Year's Day, as well as to set off firecrackers, bang pots and pans, and generally raise a ruckus.
Then Melody taught us some basic ribbon dance moves and lead us in some dancing.
We then learned about the Chinese jump rope, which Connor pointed out was made by connecting a whole bunch of rubber bands together, something we could make ourselves. We actually have a couple Chinese jump ropes around the classroom, made from elastic, but I'd never called them that thinking that the term was probably some sort of insulting ethnocentric bastardization along the lines of the term "indian giver." Now I know, it's real thing!
Melody taught the kids some fancy footwork.
There is so much to this holiday, and so much fun to be had. Each year our celebration grows as we learn more and more as a community, an experience I hope we continue to carry with us into the wider world because everyone should have this much fun.