Thank you to Bicultural Mama for this great piece on teaching kids the meaning of New Years!
For many families, New Years is all about parties, staying up until midnight, and watching the ball drop in Times Square. While these are all important aspects, they do not entirely encompass it. Like with most holidays, there are often historical, scientific, and spiritual characteristics that go beyond the commercialism that we most often see.
Kids may not really understand the meaning behind New Years, but it’s easy to teach them about it. Here are some tips to give them perspective about New Years beyond the confetti, fireworks, and midnight celebrations.
Teaching Kids the Meaning of New Years
The Time Aspect
Help kids understand the physical and utilitarian aspects of a new year by showing them a calendar. Explain the 12 months of the year (Gregorian calendar). Start in January and flipping through until the end of the year. Point out holidays and birthdays along the way so kids can relate to the order of how time takes place.
The Reflective Aspect
The end of the year is a good time to reflect on the past year. Start a tradition of having your child write a journal entry that highlights the highs and lows from the last 12 months. If your child is too young to write, another option is to have a “verbal journal” by discussing the year with him or her.
The Scientific Aspect
A year is not a man-made idea; science lies behind its formation. Explain how the rotation of the Earth around the sun takes 365 days, or a full year. If your child has a solar system model in his or her room, that’s an easy way to show how the orbiting works. Or check out books from the library about the Earth and the solar system.
The Goals Aspect
New Year’s resolutions are popular and for good reason – it’s a figurative stake in the ground of time to set and start goals. Kids can write down their resolutions or simply verbalize them if they are unable to write yet. Even better, set estimated dates of when the child wants each goal to be accomplished.
The Multicultural Aspect
Help kids to understand that the concept of a new year may differ in other cultures. Some cultures do not use the Gregorian calendar. For example, the Chinese use a lunar calendar with 12-year cycles where each cycle is symbolized by an animal. The first day of the Chinese New Year typically falls between mid-January to mid-February. Let kids know that there is no one right or wrong calendar. There are just different ones, and different is okay.
Try implementing these tips to teach kids the meaning of New Years, then have fun celebrating it in all the traditional ways they love. Happy New Year!
About the Author: Maria Adcock
Maria Adcock is the founder of BiculturalMama.com, a site covering culture, parenting, food, and travel. She is a first-generation Chinese-American and corporate marketing professional turned freelance writer who lives in New York with her husband and two young children.
Image: Wikimedia Commons