Our family is not Chinese and we don’t celebrate Chinese New Year in a grand way. However, since we do try to make our homeschooling lessons relevant and “connected” somehow to current events, we sometimes include festivals and occasions like Chinese New Year in our “studies.” I’ve started trying to “christianize” such lessons though, so that they’re still somehow connected to our rich faith.
This year, the first day of the Chinese New Year falls on February 19, the day after Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of the Lenten season. We hope to continue our Lenten traditions (like the the ones I mentioned here), and will also do the following “Christianized” activities to connect Chinese New Year to our Lenten observance (please feel free to choose any of them and customize them according to your own family’s needs and preferences):
1. Read books about Mary.
While researching for our mini unit study on China (in relation to Chinese New Year), I discovered that the patron saint of China is Mama Mary, where she is known as Our Lady of Sheshan or Mary, Queen of China. It’s a great blessing then that we have a few children’s books about Our Blessed Mother — instant religion and social studies (geography, history) “lessons” for us!
2. Learn about saints “connected” to China.
We were blessed to receive a pre-loved copy of Seton’s Great Saints in World History from a fellow homeschooling mom two years ago, and we occasionally use it for our social studies lessons.
One of the saints featured in the book is Saint Francis Xavier, who is known as the “Apostle to the Far East” and the patron saint of the Orient, missionaries, navigators and sailors. We’ve studied a bit about him before and plan to review his life and works again.
Aside from Saint Francis Xavier, we will also read a bit about the martyr saints of China, and talk about how Lent can be a time of “dying” for Jesus as we make sacrifices for Him.
3. “Explore” China in the comfort of our own home.
A family field trip to China is one of the items on our list of life dreams but since we don’t have the funds for it yet, we’ll make the most of technology and take a virtual tour of famous places in China for the meantime.
Our first stop — the Great Wall of China, of course!
By God’s grace, I was able to score a book about it at a National Bookstore sale a few years ago, and we’ll also use this cool website to go on a virtual tour of the wall, plus this site for fun and interesting facts about China. And this one, too, for geography!
How is exploring China related to our faith? you may ask. Well, being a missionary means being willing to explore new places and learn about new cultures, right? 😉 I believe all of us Catholics are called to be missionaries, no matter what our backgrounds or occupations are.
We’ll also take this opportunity to go down memory lane and show the kids pictures of our family in our former “home” as missionaries, i.e. Timor Leste. I think it’s important for Tim and Rysse to know why we chose to birth them in Timor.
4. Learn faith-themed words in Chinese.
We tried using this Chinese online dictionary a while back, and the kids had lots of fun! This time, we’ll use it to learn how to say words like “God,” “love,” “Jesus,” and so on in Chinese. 😉
5. Listen to Christian songs in Chinese.
Since the kids love music, we’ll try to listen to Chinese versions of Christian songs that they are already familiar with, like the one below:
If you really think about it, any festival or occasion can become a faith-enriching activity for our families. The key is to look at it from different angles, and to try to view everything in a deeper way. God bless us all as we explore the riches of our faith together!
Can you think of other “Christianized” ways to celebrate Chinese New Year? Do share them in the comments!