This page provides information to support educators and families when teaching K-3 students about the Lunar New Year. It is designed to complement the Lunar New Year topic on BrainPOP Jr.  

Children are probably familiar with New Year celebrations held on January 1st, but this topic is an opportunity to learn about the Lunar New Year, a holiday celebrated in many parts of Asia and around the world.  

Remind children that our calendar is based on the Earth’s path around the Sun. We celebrate the New Year on the first day of the year—January 1.  Explain that the lunar calendar is based on the Moon’s phases, and that the first day of the lunar year happens some time between January 21 and February 20 in our calendar. 

Just as we have traditions for celebrating the January 1 new year, so too are there traditions for the Lunar New Year. Remind students that a tradition is a custom that is followed and passed down by a culture or group of people. Describe how different Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year in different ways. In China, the Lunar New Year is part of the Spring Festival. People traditionally perform lion or dragon dances, and set off fireworks because the loud noises are thought to scare off evil spirits. On the last day of the festival, people light lanterns to share wishes or create riddles for kids to solve.

In Vietnam, the Lunar New Year celebration is called Tết. Families feast on special foods like bánh chung, sticky rice cakes filled with meat and beans. People decorate their homes with flowers and put up good luck charms. There’s also a tradition where the first guest of the year can spread good or bad luck—so people choose their first visitor wisely! People often visit temples and pray during this time, and after prayer they pick a bud from a nearby tree for good luck. 

In Korea, the Lunar New Year is called Seollal. People dress in traditional clothing called hanbok and gather together to eat foods, like a soup with rice cakes. The small rice cakes look like coins, symbolizing good fortune. Families spend time together playing games and flying kites, or even jumping on seesaws. Children bow to their elders and wish them a happy new year, and the elders wish the children success and give them a little money.

Let children know that even though cultures celebrate Lunar New Year differently, there are some traditions in common, such as setting up altars that honor ancestors and cleaning the homes just before the new year to get rid of any bad luck that might be sticking around. 

Remind children that learning about the Lunar New Year is a great way to explore other cultures, spend time with family and friends, and honor the past while looking forward to the future.