The Chinese Year of the Snake begins on February 10, 2013. Chinese New Year is a fifteen day holiday celebrated with lots of food, family reunions and visits with friends. "Gung Hay Fat Choy" means "congratulations" in Chinese, and is a traditional greeting of best wishes for a prosperous and good new year.
From the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, this informative Chinese New Year page describes dozens of new year's customs, including Lai-See (red envelopes of money given to children), everybody's birthday (the day when everyone turns one year older), and the Lantern Festival (the end of the New Year celebration.) "On New Year's day, everyone had on new clothes, and would put on his best behavior. It was considered improper to tell a lie, raise one's voice, use indecent language, or break anything on the first day of the year."
Visit to learn more about the Chinese calendar, whose history dates back to the second millennium BCE. According to the twelve-animal Chinese zodiac, 2008 is the Year of the Rat. "This system is extremely practical. A child does not have to learn a new answer to the question, 'How old are you?' in each new year. Old people often lose track of their age, because they are rarely asked about their present age. Every one just have to remember that he or she was born in the "Year of the Dog" or whatever."
For Chinese New Year crafts, this Kaboose page is top notch. Each craft includes a photograph and detailed instructions. The interstitial ads which pop up between pages are a bit annoying, but the quality of the rest of the site is worth this small irritation. Crafts which caught my eye include Chinese New Year Dragon made from an egg carton, and the easy Paper Lanterns. Some of the crafts are offsite, which can be a bit confusing if you are not expecting to land somewhere else.
Built to promote the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco, the Students & Teachers menu reveals dozens of gems. This particular page hosts eight stories about Chinese New Year traditions and history such as the animals of the Chinese horoscope, the Chinese lunar calendar, and the story of the Four Dragons. Other menu items include printable coloring pages and crafts, downloadable games, a fortune cookie recipe, and a history of the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade.