SCMP Saturday, January 13, 2001

Festive links for Year of Snake


With Chinese New Year only a short time away, I set out to find what Internet resources there were in English for parents and teachers looking for information on the festival.
There are a number of sites that provide background information, but simple searching leads to many that have not been updated and still refer to the Year of the Dragon.
The site 'Chinatown Online' () is an excellent starting point which provides the expected introduction to Chinese New Year but also offers explanations about the Lion Dance, the Story of Nian, kitchen and door gods, fortune sticks and New Year food. You will also find instructions to make your own lai see packets.
Finding specific information about the Year of the Snake is more of a challenge, especially as explanations of traditions vary from author to author.
Answers to 'are we entering a golden, white or metal snake year?' can be found at the Web site 'Chinese Fortune Calendar OnLine' (). The site retells the story of the white snake and the green snake which had magical powers in the Mountain Er-Mei in the Ming dynasty.
Astrology plays a large part in the celebrations. To find your birth sign visit 'Chinese Zodiac' (
20Lesson.html ) where teachers will also find materials to download.
Ready-made lesson plans have the potential to save a great deal of time. The 'New Year's Customs' Web site () offers a series of practical suggestions for Diwali (Hindu New Year), Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), Japanese New Year, Chinese New Year, TET (Vietnamese New Year) and the Traditional American New Year.
Another sample lesson plan can be found at () which can help students learn about the Chinese Lunar Calendar and the characteristics associated with each of the 12 cycles. There are also proverbs, words of wisdom and the chance to participate in traditional fortune-telling.
The Hong Kong Tourist Association has recently redesigned its Web site () with the promise that it will be as fun to use as it will be informative.
Details of the Chinese New Year Parade on January 24 are listed alongside a printer-friendly map of the route. Teachers can easily modify the map to fit a geography lesson. The site's search engine leads to some worthwhile pages, but remember to use quotation marks when entering 'Chinese New Year' in the search box.
Yahoo () has a section dedicated to Chinese New Year which can be found by using the search form (don't forget those quotation marks). This alone is capable of keeping teachers, parents and students occupied for hours.
When using search engines, remember that Chinese New Year may also be referred to as the Spring Festival (Chun Jie), Lunar New Year and Yuan Dan, more details of which can be found at .
If you only have time to visit one site, then go to Chinascape (
New_Year/ ). In addition to recommending sites to visit, it shows how many times each link has been visited and allows visitors to rate sites. This function and the facility to add your own recommendations may make this a page to bookmark for future years.