Saturday, Sep 21st

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Friday, 05 February 2016 00:00

Children Learn Customs and Culture for Lunar New Year

Written by  Lim Hui Chu, Melaka / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

A lion dance performance was presented by the children to usher in the New Year. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]

Students at Melaka Da Ai Kindergarten welcomed the New Year by learning various auspicious phrases in the company of the “God of Fortune”, “Loving Mothers” and teachers. The celebration ended with a sumptuous meal and festive mood permeated the kindergarten.


As Lunar New Year is an important festival to the Chinese, auspicious greetings are keys to offer blessings to each other.

On February 5, 2016, three days before the auspicious day, Melaka Da Ai Kindergarten was in the mood for celebration and the decorations were all in red. Teachers and students also donned in their new clothes for the celebration at the Conference Hall.

A week before the event, Chye May June, a staff from the Administrative Department, thoughtfully drafted a document on the New Year etiquettes. It was given to every parent with the objective of elevating a better understanding amongst parents and students.

The origin of Lunar New Year

The programme kicked off with a lion dance. The lion performers were a little timid initially and kept their heads low. But when they heard the children’s laughter, their mood changed and they were excited.

A video footage on the origin of Chinese New Year was shown. “According to tales and legends, there was a mythical beast called ‘Nian’, who would come on the first day of Lunar New Year to the villages for food. What did the villagers do to protect themselves?” the teachers asked the children.

“Prepare lanterns, firecrackers, red scrolls…” the students answered eagerly. “After the victory against ‘Nian’, everyone greeted each other happily for a peaceful New Year the following day. This is the origin of the Lunar New Year,” the teachers continued.

“I never expected the teachers to include the Chinese folklore in the syllabus, like “Nian’s” fear of red colour and firecrackers. This is good in passing on the traditional stories to the next generations,” Cheong Ka Hee, a parent commented.

Polite young children

In ushering in the Lunar New Year, the students are taught the customs related to the festival every year. This was carried out by teachers through skits in the past. However, to ensure better understanding, children were requested to practise the auspicious phrases with the people they met this year, like “Gong Xi Gong Xi”, “Xin Nian Kuai Le” (Happy New Year), “Wan Shi Ru Yi” (Best Wishes) and so on.

When the song was played, the six-year-old kids first greeted the younger kids with auspicious phrases before swapping roles. The game successfully broke the ice. “Now, even the four-year-old kids could chant those catchy phrases by heart together with action. This is what we aim to achieve,” Koh Siew Tin, a teacher-cum-organizer, beamed with delight.

A “God of Fortune” character stepped in together with the “Great Love Mothers”. The children were thrilled seeing the red packets in a bamboo basket. To “earn” the red packets, they would first need to come up with an auspicious phrase. The children were quick to put what they have learnt into practice and they even remembered to utter a word of thanks.

After that, they lined up to greet the headmistress, Tan Chye Choo and in return, they were given mandarin oranges. The headmistress made a good wish for everyone’s well-being and a blessed New Year. The children were all smiles with the gifts.

Another important tradition is the reunion feast. Inside the main hall, the “Great Love Mothers” and parents prepared a delicious meal for everyone to warmly celebrate the festival.

Positive influence on parents

A parent, Tan Lee Hong was pleased with her child’s good manners. When visiting friends nowadays, she would not need to worry about her child landing their hands on everything around them recklessly anymore. She herself had benefitted greatly from this activity too. The reunion feast had given her a feeling of being at home.

Years ago, she had aimed to enrol her one-year-old child then at the Da Ai Kindergarten. Now, her child has finally started her education here. She felt the teaching method fitted her ideals of education. She was truly touched by the New Year celebration, in particular the deep affection for the children by the teachers. She said gratefully, “It is indeed a blessing to be able to study here.”

To Lilian Yong, her son Lee Jun Liang, used to be very shy and reserved. When visiting relatives previously, he would always stay beside her without uttering a word. Although she thought it was kind of rude for children not to greet the elders; she found it hard to persuade and see a change in him. What she hoped for remained the same although he was sent for preschool education since he was two.

He was enrolled at Da Ai Kindergarten this year and it was the first time both the mother and son attended a New Year event. Just few days ago, she noticed the change in her son when he told her, “The Chinese New Year is approaching, we must wish each other Happy New Year and Best Wishes. I want to assist in house chores, is there anything I can help?”

Lilian felt extremely pleased seeing his son’s change. She sincerely thanked the school for these.



Through the edutainment event, not only did the kids learn the traditional customs and Chinese culture, they also learnt to speak good words and have good thoughts. This put everyone in a jovial mood to celebrate the spring festival.

 

The teachers told the students the story of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]   With the Lunar New Year fast approaching and the children’s participation in various activities, they learnt to greet the elders. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]

The teachers told the students the story of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]
 
With the Lunar New Year fast approaching and the children’s participation in various activities, they learnt to greet the elders. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]
 
Teachers, students and parents gathered for a reunion feast. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]   The entire family of Tan Lee Hong had an enjoyable time at the event. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]

Teachers, students and parents gathered for a reunion feast. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]
 
The entire family of Tan Lee Hong had an enjoyable time at the event. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]