Second grade Club TIGER students at East Elementary hosted a Chinese New Year parade for the Club TIGER students and staff last month.

Second grade Club TIGER students at East Elementary hosted a Chinese New Year parade for the Club TIGER students and staff last month. The halls were lined with parade goers blowing dragon whistles as the parade went past. The second-grade class, under the direction of Deena Kitchen and AmeriCorps assistants, Mrs. Randall and Miss Garcia, entertained the crowd with a beautiful dragon dance, decorated dragon masks, red lanterns and Chinese music in the background.           

“This was all a part of our study on different cultures and diversity,” Kitchen said. “The students were able to compare our Western New Year celebration and zodiac signs to China’s.”

The Chinese New Year begins on the first new moon of the year with a ‘reunion dinner’ and continues its celebration with a dragon parade, dragon dances and other festivities until the first new moon of the year when the holiday is completed with the Lantern Festival.

This year’s Chinese New Year began with the new moon on Friday, Feb. 16, and ended with the full moon 15 days later. The second-graders spent the first part of the month learning about China, its largest celebration of the year and preparing for the parade.
The first item they uncovered was the difference between the new moon and full moon.
“Next, we moved on to comparing Western zodiacs, which are based on a 12-month cycle and named after constellations to China’s zodiac, which is based on a 12-year cycle and named after animals,” Kitchen said.

The students discovered the Western zodiac is determined on the month one is born, and the Chinese zodiac is determined on the year one is born.
“We discovered our class was mostly made up of Tigers, born in the year 2010. We had a few Rabbits, (2011) and an Ox, (2009),” Kitchen said.

The 2018 Chinese New Year is the Year of the Dog. If you were born in the following years you are a Dog: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and of course 2018. The Dog is the eleventh animal in the zodiac. It is a symbol of loyalty and honesty. Dogs possess the character traits of being loyal, friendly, faithful, smart, straightforward, have a good sense of humor and are popular among their peers. On the downside, dogs can be impatient, anxious and conservative. According to Chinese tradition, the best match for the Dog is the Rabbit, but Dogs should stay clear of Dragons, Sheep and Roosters.

In preparation of the parade, the students enjoyed learning about and preparing for the festivities. They made Chinese lanterns, painted decorative signs to be hung outside each classroom door for good luck, designed dragon masks, and created parade favors (dragon whistles) to throw out to the guests. At the end of the celebration, each student received a red envelope with a Chinese coin for luck in the new year, as is the Chinese tradition.

“You might think this is just hocus-pocus, silly banter but the Chinese Calendar has been used for over a thousand years and more than the 1.3 billion people of China believe this,” Kitchen said. “Even if you don’t believe, it sure is fun celebrating!”