You may have noticed that some of our middle grades students got new haircuts recently. This was no coincidence! These students were following Chinese traditions surrounding the holiday of Longtoujie (Dragon’s Head Festival), the second day of the second lunar month, which fell on February 27 this year. It is said that as the day approaches, the dragon starts to raise its head to produce plentiful rain for mankind to facilitate spring plowing. Chinese people believe that getting a haircut on this day will bring good luck and prosperity, and our students wanted good luck too!

In addition to the Longtoujie, our middle grades Chinese-speaking students also celebrated Lunar New Year and the Lantern Festival in February. In Chinese class, students not only learned about the do’s and dont’s for the Lunar New Year, but also about how those who celebrate start to prepare for this holiday seven days before the Chinese New Year’s Eve, and continue to celebrate the holiday until the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first lunar month.

New Year’s paper cutting.

New Year’s paper cutting.

Students made different shapes, including fish, the character of “happiness” in Chinese and flowers.

Students made different shapes, including fish, the character of “happiness” in Chinese and flowers.

Using calligraphy brushes, students wrote four-character idioms of well wishes.

Using calligraphy brushes, students wrote four-character idioms of well wishes.

These preparations include different tasks for each day and our students followed tradition. As it is customary for Chinese people to decorate their homes and adorn their front door with messages of well wishes before the New Year, our students wrote four-character idioms of well wishes with calligraphy brushes and decorated the seventh floor commons with their best wishes for the whole school. Students also did some New Year’s paper cutting, making shapes including fish, the character of “happiness” in Chinese and different flowers, each of which represents a different wish. After the decorations were complete, we started the celebrations by making dumplings together. Traditionally, a coin is placed in one of the dumplings and the person who eats that dumpling on New Year’s Day is considered to be the luckiest one in the whole family, but students swapped out the coin for a lucky candy instead.

Making dumplings together.

Making dumplings together.

Students perform the dragon dance.

Students perform the dragon dance.

Performing the traditional Chinese ribbon dance.

Performing the traditional Chinese ribbon dance.

After eating the delicious dumplings we made together, middle grades students in the Chinese track held two Lunar New Year assemblies to celebrate this holiday with their peers. During the assemblies, students introduced the traditions of Lunar New Year to our audience and then performed the Chinese dragon dance, kung fu and the traditional Chinese ribbon dance. They sang different Lunar New Year songs and distributed red envelopes at the end of the assembly.

The middle grades Lunar New Year celebrations ended with the celebration of the Lantern Festival. Students made their own lanterns and tried to solve lantern riddles together. We also all enjoyed Yuan Xiao, a traditional dessert for the Lantern Festival.

We wish our Avenues family a happy and prosperous Rooster Year!