For many folks Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year is not just 15 days of celebration starting from the first day of the first month of the Chinese Calander. It "starts" much earlier.
There is much to do. spring cleaning the house, decorating the house, buying new clothes and shoes and having a haircut plus stocking up the house with Chinese New Year foods. All this is part and parcel of Chinese New Year. It is out with the old and in with the new. Even the look must be new hence the haircut.
Visiting the shopping malls during this period is exciting for the kids too as the malls are gaily decorated and there are activities like chinese acrobatics, lion dances etc to entertain shoppers.
The kids love the excitement of this build up and countdown towards Chinese New Year. They love every bit of it. Shopping for new clothes, having a new haircut, decorating the house and even spring cleaning. Especially now that they are older, very much involved and can remember a little bit of the routines we went through from past years.
They are in school now so they have less time. Previously, they love it when I give them a wet cloth each and instruct them to wipe here and wipe there. Now all I ask them to do is to clean out their own bedside drawers.
They love this activity too. They boy wanted to put in everything red for his drawer. "Mummy, we must put in everything red red in the drawer because it is Chinese New Year." As usual, he threw out everything from his drawer and placed them in other parts of the house while his drawer looks shiny and clean and .... quite empty. He requested for a red box to put his stuff and he placed the box inside his drawer together with his red and yellow cars to decorate the inside of his drawer.
As for the girl, the hoarder, she was delighted to find old things that she had forgotten about. "Mummy, look, I forgot about this already. So long time never see this!" She requested for a red box too in which she stored all her precious beloved stationaries. When she was done and her table looked neat and tidy again (though still full of stuff), she stood back to admire her "new bedside table" and did a happy dance. She was all smiles.
How many days to Chinese New Year? "5 days!" they both chipped in. They love counting down in this manner daily.
Speaking of countdown to Chinese New Year, here is an online Chinese New Year game for kids aptly named PBS Kids- Sagwa: "Countdown to the New Year" It has 8 games in all. All the games are related to counting down towards Chinese New Year with a little explanation of the meaning behind each activity.
The game plus the little bits of information is a very good way to explain to kids about the fun of preparing and getting ready for Chinese New Year. My kids definitely relate to this set of 8 games since they have been doing the countdown "live".