Written by SWS Mandarin teacher, Hui-Ling Singer. 

Chinese New Year is one of the most important Chinese Festivals. It celebrates the beginning of a new year based on the lunar calendar as opposed to the Gregorian calendar, which is the solar calendar used here in the USA. The first day of the Chinese New Year begins on the new moon which usually takes place between January 21st and February 20th on the Gregorian calendar each year. This year the Chinese New Year happened on January 22nd. Last year in 2022, it was on February 1st, and in 2024, it will be on February 10th. The Chinese New Year celebration lasts until the Lantern Festival which is January 15th on the lunar calendar and February 5th on the Gregorian calendar this year. 

I feel very blessed to be part of the Susquehanna Waldorf School community that honors different cultures and all walks of life. Thanks to the support from our Leadership Council, DEI Committee, and the whole school, this year we were able to hold a very special assembly on Friday, January 20th to kick off the celebration for the New Year, the year of the Rabbit. Class 5 & 6 started the celebration by telling the legend behind the Chinese New Year, an Animal Called Nian (Year), followed by the very popular New Year Song from Class 7. A special moment was dedicated to Class 8 when the students received their Chinese names.

The highlights of the celebration were the Sword Dance and the Drumming performance by Kevin Chen, William Hinkson, and Rylee Hecht from CCAI (Chinese Cultural and Arts Institute in Harrisburg). The Sword Dance was the favorite for most of our students. The celebration concluded with the whole school jumping on the bubble wraps representing the sounds of the firecrackers, the Lion parade, more drumming from CCAI, and the students receiving the red envelopes with a dollar coin from Taiwan inside at the end.  Special thanks to CCAI founder, Chen-Yu Tsuei!

In addition to the Chinese New Year Celebration assembly, various cultural activities were also shared in each classroom. For example the story behind the 12 Chinese Zodiac Animals, paper cutting, lion head coloring, lantern making, and riddle guessing for the Lantern Festival, just to name a few. Some special Chinese New Year’s food was also shared, including Chinese New Year’s Sticky Rice Cake (see below for the recipe), dumplings, vegetable spring rolls, and mandarins. May the year of the Rabbit bring you and your family good health and lots of joyful blessings!

Chinese New Year Sticky Rice Cake Recipe

Chinese like to eat 年糕 (sticky rice cake) during the Chinese New Year. 年糕is pronounced “Nian Gao”. 年(nián) means “year” and 糕(gāo) means “cake”. 黏means sticky also is pronounced “nián”. 高 means high, tall or above the average is also pronounced “gāo”. Therefore, 年nián 糕gāo (sticky rice cake) is to symbolize this year will be better than last year. 

Enjoy making this simple Chinese New Year sticky rice cake recipe and enjoy the 年nián 糕gāo! May the rest of your 2023 and the year of the Rabbit bring you and your family good health, lots of joyful blessings and loving memories!!!

1 lb glutinous rice flour (can be found in any local Asian markets)

3 eggs

¼ lb butter (room temperature)

2 cups sugar (I usually use a lot less, but you can follow the recipe the first time and adjust it later.)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups milk (any kind of milk will do)

½ cup shredded coconut (can be eliminated if you don’t like coconut)

Mix the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and milk and mix well. Add the rice flour, baking powder, and vanilla extract and mix well. Add the shredded coconut and mix well. 

Pour the mix into a greased 9”x13” pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 to 60 minutes or until the surface turns golden brown. (Your kitchen is going to smell so good.)