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  • Ringing in the Chinese New Year

    Georgia’s Chinese-American population took root when laborers came to Augusta in 1873 to dig a canal. Ellen Chiang, an instructor at the Atlanta Chinese School, explains some of the customs of one of the most festive and biggest holidays in Chinese culture - Chinese New Year.

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. Why do we have so many Chinese here in Georgia?

    2. What customs do you follow in your home that provide a link between your family and the culture of the country/ countries from which your ancestors come?

    3. Think about the ways you celebrate New Year's Day in your family. What traditions have become a part of your family's celebration? Which ones are similar to the Chinese style of celebrating their new year?

    Expansion

    1. If there are Chinese students in your school, ask if they (or their parents) will come to your class to talk to the students about how they celebrate the Chinese New Year in their home. They might also bring traditional clothing to show to the class. Ask if they might also share authentic Chinese recipes for the students to prepare and bring. Students might want to learn how to use chopsticks for eating – especially rice. They might also want to learn to pronounce some Chinese words and write them. Students should have prepared questions to ask their guests.

    2. As a class, brainstorm and list all the customs associated with New Year’s Eve in this country. When finished, compare them to the Chinese customs shown in this Georgia Story. Are any of them similar? How are they different? Write a paragraph explaining why it is important for different cultures to maintain their traditions as well as to share them with others.

    Vocabulary

    calligraphy: the art of producing decorative handwriting or lettering with a pen or brush.
    Kitchen God: Zao Shen or Kitchen God, important domestic deity in Chinese religion. His image is normally printed on paper and enshrined on or near the stove in each Chinese house; he not only watches over the domestic affairs of a family, but he is a moral force in the lives of all family members.
    lunar calendar: a calendar based upon cycles of the Moon's phases
    buddhism: a major global religion with a complex history and system of beliefs centered in India and southeast Asia

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. Why do we have so many Chinese here in Georgia?
    Many of the ancestors of the Chinese here in Georgia came to Augusta to help build the Augusta Canal in 1873. They stayed and created their own community both in Augusta and many other towns around Georgia, especially Atlanta. Many later became grocery store owners.

    2. What customs do you follow in your home that provide a link between your family and the culture of the country/ countries from which your ancestors come?
    Student answers will vary.

    3. Think about the ways you celebrate New Year's Day in your family. What traditions have become a part of your family's celebration? Which ones are similar to the Chinese style of celebrating their new year?
    Other than watching football games and parades on Jan. 1st, try to elicit from the students other traditions: grace said at the meal - maybe by a particular person, a certain dish that must be served and/or eaten by everyone (black-eyed peas?), visiting a relative's grave on that day, etc. The teacher might want to share customs or traditions in their own family in order to spur discussion.

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