Tonight is the night of the big Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco, and it's a tradition in our house to make wontons to eat while we watch the parade on TV. Wontons are easy to make, tasty, kid-friendly, and you can get everything you need at the grocery store. Furthermore, they're something the children can help make with minimal effort, and they even have a lot of fun folding the things.
So, pick up a pack of pre-made wonton wrappers and other ingredients and get ready to start your wonton party. Our recipe is for chicken wontons, although you can use pork, shrimp, or other fillings, depending on what you like or happen to have on hand.
1-1/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into pieces
1 package square wonton wrappers
2–3 green onions, chopped
1/2-inch piece of root ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
Gung hay fat choy! Sausalito's Bay Area Discovery Museum opens on a Monday (something that happens rarely) for its annual Chinese New Year Festival. The festivities take place on February 18 (Presidents' Day) from 9 am to 5 pm. At the this celebration of the Year of the Snake, the whole family can find something to do. Try your hand at traditional Chinese calligraphy, construct a kite, listen to Chinese string music by Purple Orchid, or make your own traditional sweet wonton (they’ll even cook them for you).
You can also learn about the Chinese zodiac and enjoy an exciting performance by the Dragon Horse Lion Dance Team (10 am) and the lion dancers of the Marin Chinese Cultural Group (2 pm). Lion dance performances take place in the museum's Festival Plaza (performances will be in the Discovery Theater if it's raining).
All programs are free with museum admission, except the performance by the Chinese Performing Arts of America Youth Group (part of the 2013 World On Stage Ethnic Performance Series), which costs $7 for museum members or $17 general (includes museum admission). Chinese Dance School and Theater performances are at 11 am (sold out) and 1 pm in the Discovery Theater.
Visit the San Francisco Zoo this Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm to celebrate the Lunar New Year! Marvel at Chinese acrobatic performances, traditional Chinese lion and folk dancing, Chinese yo-yo tricks and much more. Go on a Zodiac Scavenger Hunt through the Zoo to learn fun facts about the animals found on the Chinese calendar. Everyone who completes the Zodiac Scavenger Hunt will receive a lucky red envelope with a special surprise inside.
Were you born in the Year of the Snake (1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001 and 2013)? Lucky you—you'll receive free Zoo admission on Sunday!
The Zoo's Chinese New Year festivities will be held at the Event Tent near the entrance to the Children's Zoo. Entertainment and activities are free with zoo admission.
The Chinese Lunar New Year, the Year of the Snake, starts today, February 10. To kick off your celebration, create some neat Chinese New Year crafts, like these cute paper dragons and lanterns. They're easy and fun to make and perfect to decorate the house, and make great playdate, school, or scout group activities. They'll also be perfect to have on hand while you watch the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade on February 23. Have your own parade through the living room!
Here’s what you’ll need to make your dragons:
Gold stickers or paint (red and gold are traditional colors for Chinese New Year)
Chinese New Year takes place this year on January 23, and one way you can get ready for the Year of the Dragon is by reading Oliver Chin's new book of the same name with your kids. The Year of the Dragon: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac (36 pages, Immedium, 2012) is the seventh book in this series by Chin, a local San Francisco writer and dad, and follows the adventures of Dominic the young dragon as he meets the emperor and empress, befriends a boy named Bo, and enters a paddle boat (a literal "dragon boat") race with a crew made up of Bo and the other 11 animals from the Chinese zodiac.
The Year of the Dragon does a great job introducing kids to the dragons of Chinese lore, and offers a gentle tale of friendship, teamwork, bravery, and acceptance. The illustrations by illustrator and cartoon character designer Jennifer Wood, who's done work for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, are colorful and dynamic and add a lot of appeal for both kids and grownups.
Come celebrate the Year of the Rabbit at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum this weekend! The museum has a full schedule of fun Chinese New Year acitivities on both Saturday and Sunday, February 5 and 6.
The museum kicks off its Lunar New Year celebration with author Oliver Chin and the colorful cast of characters from The Year of the Rabbit, the newest in his Tales from the Chinese Zodiac series. Meet Rosie the rabbit and her human friend Jai in this charming tale about their "hare-raising" adventures. After the reading, screen-print a reusable tote bag with an image from the book or make a cool button to pin on your favorite jacket. Then, hop through the galleries on a storytelling tour to hear classics like How the Years Were Named and Teardrop Dragon. Supplies are limited; one tote bag and button per person. Schedule: Reading with Oliver Chin 1–1:45 pm, hands-on activities 2–4 pm, animal zodiac stories 3–3:45 pm.
A Pacific Rim location and sizeable population with Asian heritage means that Chinese New Year is a significant holiday in the San Francisco Bay Area. A perfect book for young children to learn about the holiday and its many colorful traditions is Karen Katz's My First Chinese New Year (32 pages, Henry Holt and Company, 2004).
My First Chinese New Year follows the celebration of Chinese New Year as experienced by a young girl and her family. We see the preparations for the holiday, the New Year's Even banquet, and finally the exciting Chinese New Year parade, complete with traditional drummers, lion dancers, and a spectacular dragon.
Katz's illustrations are bright and colorful, and work with the simple text to convey some of the key customs and meanings of Chinese New Year, including the profusion of the color red; symbolic foods like tangerines, whole fish, and dumplings; and an altar to honor the family's ancestors. It's a fun overview of the holiday for children from preschool through first grade.