Chinese New Year

This Friday is Chinese New Year and Chinese friends will be celebrating the Year of the Horse.

Why might we mark Chinese New Year in our families? If you read my post last week on starting 2014 with a vision  then you’ll be thinking about your children’s spiritual needs this year.

chinese dragon
Credit: Wendy Piersall

If they are primary school age (in the UK), they will already be learning about other faiths at school, and may well cover Chinese New Year anyway. This first exposure to the concept of other faiths has generated a lot of thought in my daughter’s 4 year old head and we’re still wrangling with some of the tangled strands of this (and will for some time, I’m sure). Explaining why we don’t celebrate Divali at home was interesting!

This Friday we’ll be eating some simple Chinese food (if it’s been a crazy week, probably just egg-fried noodles with soy sauce which they love) and we’re going to make some simple Chinese lanterns after school.

We’re going to dress in red as this is a “lucky” colour in China and may have a look at some Chinese symbols for good luck. This, I hasten to add, will be a prompt to have an open-ended discussion about the difference between trying to generate “luck” and trusting in Jesus for our future.

It’s a tricky tightrope walk we walk between teaching our children respect for those who follow other faiths and teaching them the absolute truth of Jesus being the Way the Truth and the Life. We are going to get that wrong sometimes but I’d rather try and bungle it up on occasion than shy away from that uncomfortable tension. We are aliens here during our time on earth and that isn’t always going to be fun.

With older children, it may be a good occasion to introduce the concept of Christians being persecuted in some parts of the world and to emphasise how blessed they are to live in a country where they can worship freely. I remember reading the exciting stories about Brother Andrew smuggling bibles into the Eastern Block before the Iron Curtain fell so maybe you could do some research into either bible smugglers or the underground church in China. You may even know people with experience of working in either China or similar mission fields. Could you have them over for dinner and get them talking with your children joining in both making them welcome and hearing their stories? Who knows whether a passion for overseas mission could be ignited by such discussions!

In any case, have a think about whether Chinese New Year could bring any opportunities to disciple your children in a new way. And Happy New Year to my Chinese friends.

If you’d like some ideas for simple Chinese New Year crafts, check out my Pinterest board here.

As ever, I’m genuinely interested to hear your comments. How do you tackle the issue of other faiths with your children? And have you thought about ways to inspire them to mission, whether at home or overseas? They’re far from simple topics and I’m a long way from having any definitive answers so get commenting!

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