Chinese New Year Celebrations: Primary Sources Reflecting a Cultural Tradition

This guest post is from the Library of Congress Teacher in Residence, Earnestine Sweeting.

Chinese New Year has been observed annually in China for hundreds of years. Use Library of Congress primary sources to help your students explore this rich cultural tradition that has been passed on from generation to generation.

The Chinese New Year, based on the lunar calendar, is celebrated between mid January and mid February.  During the Chinese New Year’s celebration, many people in China and across the United States participate in traditional activities. By analyzing primary sources documenting this holiday, students can examine important features of communities throughout the world and reflect on how traditions shape those communities.

Queen’s Road on Chinese New Years Day, Hong Kong, China

Analyze this street scene of Queen’s Road on Chinese New Year’s Day in Hong Kong, China, and challenge your students to make careful observations. Ask your students, “What do you see?” and “What more do you see?”  When I looked at this, it certainly reminded me of the hustle and bustle of today’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve in New York. Crowds of shoppers gather, taxis transport passengers while others line up waiting for customers, and barrels of goods are carried in preparation for the feasts.

Teachers can have students:

Chinese New Year parade in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Chinese New Year is not only celebrated in China.  For images of Chinese New Year Celebrations in the Washington, D.C., visit the Carol M. Highsmith Archive Collection from the Library of Congress.  For more information, explore the Chinese experience in America in this Chinese Immigration  presentation to better understand how diverse cultures shape the development of a community.

Tell us how you might use primary sources to celebrate the Chinese New Year with your students.


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