Celebrating the Chinese New Year with Seniors

Just like many other cultures, the Chinese people have their own calendar. Unlike most of the world, the Chinese New Year begins on January 22 and is celebrated for 16 days. It is based around the lunar new year instead of the solar new year that the Gregorian calendar follows.

People across the world enjoy the holiday with a colorful display of dance, fairs, markets, and food. If you’re celebrating the Chinese New Year with seniors, try these activities. These will involve them in the festivities and give them an avenue to celebrate their culture.

Celebrating the Chinese New Year with Seniors

Decorate together

Dressing up one’s home for a holiday is a great way to imbue the spirit of the holiday in your elderly loved one. Red banners and lanterns are central to Chinese New Year celebrations, but there are other decorations the two of you can create together.

Crafting is fantastic for seniors, as it helps build their hand-eye coordination and exercises their creative minds. You can make paper cuttings of the rabbit—this year’s animal zodiac—or fu’s, the symbol of luck. Paper “firecrackers” are also a great way to represent the season.

Cook traditional dishes

Great food is synonymous with the new year. Dumplings are a common dish, thanks to the pun on the name. The word for dumplings translates to “jiǎo zi,” which sounds very similar to the phrase “the midnight hours,” or jiāo zi. Families get together to make dumplings. Someone hides a coin inside one, and whoever gets that dumpling is said to have good luck throughout the year!

Other foods, like fish, longevity noodles, and rice cakes are all popular during this time of year. You could order these dishes, but it is much more meaningful to cook them alongside your elderly loved one. They can guide you as you cook these traditional dishes, and may even share stories of their celebrations gone by.

Celebrate the lunar new year together

Play Mahjong

Mahjong is a popular tile-based matching game among older generations in particular. So, take out their set of tiles or purchase new ones to enjoy games together. Not only is it great fun and friendly competition that is often welcome on holidays, but it is fantastic for their brains. The game has been shown to improve memory skills and heighten one’s processing skills.

Learn about the legends and traditions surrounding the holiday

Chinese New Year is connected to a few different legends, but the most widely-known one is the legend of the monster Nian. According to the story, Nian came to wreak havoc on the people of China on New Years Eve. However, the color red, fire, and loud noises scared off Nian, which is how the holiday adopted its vibrant red colors and brilliant fireworks displays.

Between this story, the legend of the Chinese Zodiac, and stories about luck and fortune, there is much to learn about surrounding the new year. Take some time to reflect on these legends and traditions together and foster stronger cultural roots.

A caregiver can help you prepare for the new year

Just like any other holiday, celebrating the Chinese New Year with seniors can be at-times stressful. Cleaning the home, running errands, cooking, and taking care of personal hygiene needs can seem daunting when compounded on top of one another. An at-home caregiver can make all the preparation easier.

If you think you or a loved one would benefit from the help of an at-home caregiver, call us at (773) 274-9262.

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