Kids around the World Celebrate!: The Best Feasts and Festivals from Many Lands

Kids around the World Celebrate!: The Best Feasts and Festivals from Many Lands

by Lynda Jones, Michele Nidenoff

Everyone loves a reason to have a good time, and although cultures around the world have their own unique feasts and festivals, we all share many of the same reasons to celebrate. Now you can learn about the many ways people from around the globe celebrate their special days, and join in the fun!

Celebrate Chinese New Year while making chiao-tzu dumplings, then


Everyone loves a reason to have a good time, and although cultures around the world have their own unique feasts and festivals, we all share many of the same reasons to celebrate. Now you can learn about the many ways people from around the globe celebrate their special days, and join in the fun!

Celebrate Chinese New Year while making chiao-tzu dumplings, then pop over to Saudi Arabia and taste delicious date-nut cookies called ma amoul while celebrating Eid ul-Fitr. Make an elaborate Venetian mask to wear at a masquerade ball in Venice during carnevale, then pound out a festive rhythm on the Igbo drum you ve made and celebrate the Iriji festival in Nigeria. Eat, drink, and make merry with the many diverse and exciting crafts, recipes, and activities in this book. No matter what language you say it in, celebrations are fun!

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
This interesting and useful book looks at the many ways youngsters from all over the world celebrate through festivals and feasts. Sixteen celebrations are described briefly, and one aspect of that celebration is chosen as a hands-on experience for sharing with others. For instance, for the Iriji celebration in Nigeria, the Igbo tribe uses many kinds of drums. The book provides a list all the materials and step by step instructions for making an Igbo drum. For Carnevale in Venice, Italy, tramezzini, an antipasto type combination of vegetables, meats and cheeses is used to make sandwiches. A recipe is provided for making these delicious sandwiches. Well organized, with occasional black and white illustrations, this book is a fine addition for enhancing the study of other cultures. A multicultural approach to celebrating the millennium.

Product Details

Publication date:
Kids Around the World Series, #7
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
11.00(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Note: The Figures and/or Tables mentioned in this sample chapter do not appear on the Web.

Welcoming the New Year!

Everybody loves a party. And the biggest and best party is the one that everyone in the world celebrates: the New Year. People may not celebrate the coming year on the same day that you do. Or in the same way. Depending on where in the world you live, horns blare, firecrackers pop, pots and pans are clanked together, or a pail of water might be thrown out a window. But all of these noisemakers have something in common-- they are used to ring in wishes for a joyous and happy New Year!


Before calendars were invented, people based their holidays on seasonal changes. For example, they would celebrate a good harvest or the coming of spring. But to know when it's a new year, you first need to have a calendar. Several different calendars are used around the world.

The Gregorian calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in 1582, is used in most countries around the world. The pope improved on an ancient Roman calendar, the Julian calendar, that Europeans had been using since 45 B . C . The Gregorian calendar is based on the time it takes the earth to revolve around the sun-- 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 12 seconds-- so it's called a solar (sun) calendar. (The time over 365 days eventually adds up to another 24 hours-- a leap day. Every four years, a leap day is added to February. That longer year is called a leap year.)

The Chinese calendar is based on the cycles of the moon. That's why it's called a lunar (moon) calendar. It is separated into 12-year cycles instead of 12-month cycles. The Muslim and Jewish calendars are other ancient ways of tracking time. These calendars are divided into 12 months. The length of each month alternates between 29 and 30 days. But these calendars are usually only referred to during Muslim or Jewish religious holidays.

Chinese New Year


The Chinese New Year celebration is like Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Fourth of July, and Halloween all rolled into one. It is the most important of all the Chinese holidays-- a time for families to come together, to pay off all debts, and to make up with friends. It's a time to make a new start filled with hope and good fortune for the future. Homes are cleaned spick-and-span to get rid of any bad luck left over from the past year.

Chinese New Year is celebrated in Chinese communities all over the world, beginning on the first day of the first lunar month of the Chinese calendar (which usually falls sometime in January or February on the Gregorian calendar). The New Year season officially ends with the Lantern Festival, on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. The Chinese celebrate the New Year with festive costumed parades that include the traditional lion dance and dragon dance. They light firecrackers to scare away any evil spirits that might bring them bad luck in the New Year. During the holiday season, families also give one another gifts, honor their ancestors, visit relatives and friends, and feast on "lucky" New Year foods.

Preparing for the New Year

The Chinese begin their celebration on New Year's Eve. Families shop for food and prepare for visits from their relatives. Many of the foods served symbolize wealth and good fortune. The Chinese may prepare scallion pancakes, dumplings, and plenty of pork, fish, chicken, and vegetable dishes. For dessert they will have sticky rice cakes, pudding cakes, and fruits. Kumquats, apples, and oranges symbolize good luck and are given to friends and family. Families "keep the night" together, eating, drinking, and having fun until New Year's morning.

Honoring Ancestors and Ancient Gods

On New Year's Eve, the Chinese prepare a special altar so they can pray to their family ancestors and a variety of gods. These gods are in charge of good luck, wealth, health, and a long life. The family also burns incense and places a food offering on the altar to please the gods. They pray to the gods of heaven and earth and the Kitchen God, who watches over all families. The Kitchen God reports on every family's good and bad deeds to the Emperor Jade, who is believed to rule over heaven. Some families leave the Kitchen God foods he will like so that he will give them a favorable report. Others prepare sticky rice treats so the Kitchen God won't be able to open his mouth! The result: an excellent chance for a good and prosperous New Year.

Chinese families try to please the Kitchen God, who watches over them.

On New Year's Day the Chinese open their doors to welcome the New Year and the gods who have brought them good luck. Families spend the day visiting friends and relatives.


Most Chinese families prepare these special meat-filled dumplings for the New Year feast that they will eat together. It's a custom that is more than 2,000 years old. Here's a simple and delicious recipe for you to try. (Makes 30- 40 dumplings)

Chiao-tzu wrappers

Here's What You Do

  1. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add water slowly as you mix the dough with your fingers until the dough holds together.
  3. Work the dough by using your hands to press and mix it together, forming it into a ball.
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured countertop or pastry board.
  5. Use your hands to mix the dough until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit half an hour.
  6. Split the dough in half. Use half of the dough for the dumpling recipe on the next page, then store the other half in the freezer for the next time you want to make more dumplings.

Here's What You Need

Note: Premade wrappers may be purchased in Asian groceries.


  • 2 cups (473 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 3 / 4 cup (177 ml) cold water


  • measuring cups
  • mixing bowl
  • plastic wrap

Chiao-tzu Filling

Add the rest of the ingredients to the cabbage. Roll the dumpling dough into a log measuring about 5 inches (13 cm) long and cut it into 16 to 18 pieces. Flatten each piece of the dough into a circle that has a 3-inch (8-cm) diameter. (Sprinkle the dough with a little flour to prevent sticking.)

Here's What You Need


  • 1 cup (237 ml) cabbage, chopped n 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
  • 1 lb (454 g) uncooked ground beef or turkey or pork
  • 1 /4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) pepper
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) sesame oil


  • mixing bowl
  • knife
  • measuring spoons
  • rolling pin
  • large pot
  • slotted spoon
  • adult helper

Here's What You Do

  1. Ask an adult to help you chop the cabbage and scallions into small pieces.
  2. Place the chopped cabbage in a bowl. Add salt and mix it into the cabbage with your hands.
  3. Squeeze the excess water from the cabbage and throw the water away.
  4. Put a teaspoon of the filling in the center of each wrapper.
  5. Fold the edges over the filling to form a half-moon shape. Pinch the edges closed with your fingers, making small dents along the edge of the dough.
  6. In a large pot, have an adult help you bring 3 quarts (3l) of water to a boil. Add one to two teaspoons of salt to the water.
  7. Carefully place the dumplings one by one in the boiling water. Stir to prevent dumplings from sticking.
  8. The dumplings are done when they rise to the top of the pot and look puffy. Carefully take them out of the pot, using a slotted spoon, and put them on a serving plate. 12 Dip the dumplings in soy sauce, and enjoy.


Chinese elders and married adults give children and unmarried adults lai-see, small square red envelopes filled with money, for the New Year. These envelopes are decorated with beautiful gold Chinese lettering that symbolize happiness, good luck, health, or wealth.


To invite good fortune into their homes, the Chinese hang spring couplets, a pair of long, red paper banners with Chinese characters written on them, on both sides of the entrances to their home. Spring couplets originated more than 1,000 years ago, when Chinese families placed peachwood characters on the gates of their homes. The characters express good wishes for the New Year, and the color red symbolizes happiness. The Chinese also ang around the house squares of red paper on which a single Chinese character is written. The symbol may mean honor, good health, or good fortune. Make your own spring couplets in this activity.

Here's What You Need

  • 6 pieces of red construction paper, 9 by 12 inches (23 by 30 cm)
  • two 14-by-22-inch (36-by-56-cm) pieces of construction paper
  • scissors
  • black tempera paint (available at arts and crafts stores)
  • paintbrush
  • glue
  • string

Spring couplets

Here's What You Do

  1. Tape three pieces of construction paper together vertically.
  2. Paint the Chinese characters onto the banner with the black tempera. (You might try to practice drawing the characters on a piece of paper a few times first.) Let the paint dry. OR Enlarge the Chinese characters, shown here, on a copy machine, cut them out, and paste each character onto the construction paper. Let the glue dry. Then go over the symbols with the black paint.
  3. Make a stick for the banner by tightly rolling up a 14-by-22-inch (36-by-56-cm) piece of construction paper. To hold the roll together, glue the edge of the end of the paper to the length of the roll. Let the glue dry.
  4. Glue the paper stick to the top back of the banner so that it lies about a half inch from the top of the banner.
  5. Cut a 28-inch (71-cm) piece of string. Tie one end of the string to one side of the banner's stick. Tie the other end of the string to the opposite end.
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 for the second banner.
  7. Hang the banners from a door or on a wall.
The Chinese express their hopes for a good New Year by displaying these symbols.

New Year's Day Parade

In Hong Kong and the rest of China, thousands of Chinese attend a New Year's parade to watch the lion dance and the dragon dance. The Chinese consider the dragon to be the most sacred animal. It is a symbol of strength, long life, and wealth. The lion scares away evil spirits and brings good luck. The dancers underneath the bodies of the lion and dragon costumes control the head and body movements. Unlike Hong Kong and many other cities in China, Taiwan does not have a massive parade. Instead, many small cities have their own parades.


To make sure the new year will be a good one, it is a Chinese tradition to set off firecrackers to scare away evil spirits. Firecrackers pop at midnight and on New Year's Day. Shopkeepers light firecrackers in front of their stores in hopes that their business will attract plenty of customers and they'll make lots of money in the new year. In some large cities, such as Beijing or Hong Kong, people are not allowed to set off firecrackers because of fear of fires. Instead, families and shopkeepers hang fake firecrackers as a symbol to ward off evil.

Meet the Author

LYNDA JONES is a freelance writer who has contributed to Nickelodeon, Science World, Essence, and other magazines. Her most recent book is titled Abe Lincoln.

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