We are so pleased to have a guest post about Chinese Lunar New Year by the very talented vocalist and musician Toni Wang, from A Little Mandarin. Make sure you read until the end to find out how to get a FREE download of her wonderful version of the traditional Happy New Year Song.
There are many ways to enjoy and introduce children to Chinese New Year but one of the nicest is through music. Much like Christmas music seems to permeate the air in the US and Europe for the month of December ‘New Years Music’ suffuses China during the 15 day New Year holiday. Holiday songs can be heard on the radio, in the stores and on the streets.
The Happy New Year Song (Xīn Nián Hǎo 新年好) is a great introduction to Chinese New Year traditions.
This song expresses the joy and fun of celebrating the New Year. Along the way it points out some of the many New Years traditions. The song opens with “Four seasons harvest is in”, like many cultures New Year is a time to celebrate the achievements of the past year and to look forward to the upcoming year.
“In the streets and alleys are firecrackers”, firecrackers are one of the many traditional ways to ring in the New Year. You may have noticed this tradition borrowed in your own country. During New Year people light firecrackers and hang red paper decorations or banners to ward off evil spirits.
“Dragon dances, stilt walking” are two more traditional activities. Stilt walking is a traditional Chinese folk art, practiced especially in Northern China. Dragon dances can be seen in many towns and cities in China and across the world. The dragon in Chinese culture is benevolent and thought to bring good luck. The dragon dance is a vibrant way to scare away evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year. One dancer controls the head and the rest make up to body. The length of the dragon depends on how many dancer the troupe has and can be over one hundred feet long! Proper timing and coordination is essential for the dancers to make the dragon shimmer and wave down the street. Look for the “Pearl of the Dragon”, a person in front waving a stick with a big ball on top. This person serves as a conductor showing the dragon which way to go. The dragon dance is usually accompanied by drums, cymbal or gongs filling the air with music.
“Welcome the wealth god, welcome wealth” The fifth day of the Chinese New Year is the day to welcome the god of wealth into your house. Better leave a door open or stay home to make sure he can get in providing prosperity for the next year. Children will have already enjoyed receiving Red Envelopes on the first day of New Year. The red envelopes have crisp bills tucked inside lucky red paper. “Wearing new clothes, wearing a new hat” During New Year people traditionally don their new clothing to symbolize welcoming new things.
There are many ways to participate in Chinese New Year celebrations around the world. You can see if your city or town has a Dragon dance or Lion dance show or perhaps a lantern festival celebrating the end on the fifteenth day of the New Year. You can listen to that song here and use it to discuss the many Chinese New Year traditions mentioned within the lyrics.
Free Download of Happy New Year Song, Xīn Nián Hǎo
Get your free download of Toni’s version of the traditional Happy New Year song, Xīn Nián Hǎo, here: http://app.topspin.net/store/artist/23507?wId=184933&src=tw&awesm=t.opsp.in_d0hUr&w=300&h=80&theme=black&highlightColor=0x00A1FF . Her acclaimed first album is available from Itunes and Amazon at the links below.
Toni is a Shanghai-born NYC mom raising her three children in English, Mandarin and French. She produced A Little Mandarin as a way to provide high quality Mandarin language children’s music for her own children. Her album has fifteen tracks providing a modern update to classic Chinese children’s music. Anyone who has been to China will recognize these children’s songs and should enjoy the refreshingly modern take.
“The singer has a beautiful vocal range and the ability to sing popular children’s song in Mandarin. The music itself is cheerful, and upbeat! This is a perfect addition to anyone’s musical library, and a must when exposing children to different languages.” – Frances Evans, Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes.