Celebrate With Local Events, Movies, Books, Crafts and Recipes

By Becky Samford, Publisher Duluth, Norcross, Suwanee, Johns Creek & Peachtree Corners Macaroni Kid February 5, 2024

My family loves any excuse to have a party, so of course, we celebrate Chinese New Year! Any holiday that includes food, family, firecrackers & fire-breathing dragons is definitely worth celebrating in my book! 

We make "PATTY HATS" and RED PAPER LANTERNS  for the right atmosphere. Ring the DINNER GONG, then sit on the floor around the coffee table to eat Chinese food with chopsticks! How much fun is that! Order take out or make your own dishes with some of the recipes below.  You can find lots of inexpensive Chinese paper plates, napkins, lanterns, and scratch-off fortune cards on Amazon (HERE) to set the perfect table! 

Take this time while eating to teach your kids the legend of Nian and also about the Chinese Zodiac. Visit the Chinese Zodiac website HERE to have some fun learning under which sign each of your family members were born then see if they have any of the traditional characteristics associated with that sign. 

End the meal with fortune cookies, a fortune scratch-off, a red envelope, or all 3 for everyone, then watch a movie or read a book from our list below. End the evening with firecrackers, if your city allows them,  sparklers if not. For a real surprise, make firecrackers in your mouth with POP ROCK SUGAR COOKIES! (have your cameras ready!) 

This is a really fun evening to share with your kids, plus it provides the opportunity to learn about another culture. There are tons of cute ideas on PINTEREST, so let your imagination run wild and start a new family tradition! 

Gong Xi Fat Sai! Roughly translated from Mandarin Chinese, it means "Congratulations and Prosperity!"

For over four thousand years, Chinese New Year celebrations have marked the end of a long winter and the beginning of spring. Following a lunar calendar, the new year begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice and ends on the full moon fifteen days later. It is the most important holiday for the Chinese, marked by traditional meals, fireworks, family gatherings, gift giving, Red Envelopes, and a Lantern Festival at the end of the festivities.


1. LEARN: The Legend of Chinese New Year

Nian lived deep within the sea for the entire year, but on every Chinese New Year Eve, he would come ashore. He devoured livestock and humans, so everyone fled to the mountains to escape harm.

One year, an elderly man appeared in the village on the Eve of the New Year and promised to chase the beast away. The villagers did not believe him; they tried to convince him to flee with them, but he refused.

When Nian emerged to wreak his usual havoc, the man set off firecrackers, lit bright lanterns, and waved red banners that frightened Nian, causing him to flee. The villagers returned, expecting the worst, but found their village intact and safe. The elderly man was not there, but they found the remains of the three items he used to scare Nian away and decided that he must have freed them from the beast.

From that day on, the villagers set off firecrackers, lit lanterns, and waved red banners to await the New Year, and the festival became known as the "Passing of Nian." "Nian" is the Chinese word that means "year," and this is how the legend was born.

Now that you know the story of Nian, you may think that the dragon, often seen in Chinese New Year parades and celebrations, represents the legendary beast.  Actually, the Dragon is a symbol of good fortune in Chinese culture and the dance is performed by skilled dancers.  It is also believed that the longer the dragon in the dance, the more good fortune will fall upon the community that year.

Watch a Chinese Dragon Dance and learn it's meaning 

2. LEARN: The Zodiac

Every Chinese New Year is associated with a specific animal: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, or Pig. Chinese astrology says you will display characteristics of these animals, depending on the year in which you were born.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. The dragon is the luckiest and most powerful of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac possessing courage, creativity, and authority. Fame and fortune are coming the way of dragons in 2024, especially when surrounded by the lucky colors of silver and gold. While dragons may experience a few roadblocks on the way to their desires, overall this is a good year for marriages, babies and new businesses.

Whether you're expecting a child to be born in 2024 or you or someone you know was born in a previous year of the dragon,  you can look for dragon-like characteristics such as being born leaders who encourage and inspire others. Dragons are also well known for their intelligence, captivating demeanor, distinct personality, slyness, loyalty, and strong leadership abilities. They are capable of incredible things when they set their minds to something. 

Previous Dragon Years include 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, and 1952.


Saturday, Feb 3, from 1-5 pm: Lunar New Year celebration at Legacy Park. The Decatur Lunar New Year Festival is Atlanta’s only Pan-Asian New Year celebration, featuring the diverse customs of several different Asian countries, including Vietnam, South Korea, China, and the Philippines. The celebration will feature craft booths, food vendors and the lion dance, brought to you by Sang Anh ฤฦฐแปng dance troupe at 3:00pm. Purchase tickets ($10) HEREAll proceeds will go to Asian American Voices for Education, an Atlanta-based non- profit which advocates for the inclusion of Asian American history in school curriculums. Learn more about AAVEd at

Saturday, Feb 3, 12-4pm: YHALE Lunar New Year Festival in Duluth. This family-fun event will be filled with kid-friendly activity stations, vendors, a traditional bowing ceremony, lion dance and other performances, red envelopes, and more!

Fri, Sat & Sun, Feb 9-11 & 16- 18:  Where the Mountain Meets the Moon at the Horizon Theatre
In this delightful Chinese tale, young Minli lives with her poor parents. Inspired by the rich tales her father tells (and by magical goldfish), Minli determines she will find the Old Man of the Moon who, it is said, knows the secret of good fortune. On her quest she encounters royalty, dragons, and several more stories, from which she learns what true good fortune really is. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Saturday, Feb 10th from 12-4pm at Atlantic Station
Celebrate the Lunar New Year with a festival full of traditional rituals and fun for the whole family! Witness a spellbinding Lion Dance that is sure to bring you prosperity, enjoy a captivating Kung Fu/Tai Chi performance, create symbolic crafts, and even sit with a numerologist who will make predictions based on your birthdate! See our spectacular display of Lunar New Year décor and traditions, from a “fire” breathing magnificent red dragon to a mesmerizing lantern show running at the top of the hour.

Thursday, Feb 8, 4:30-6 pm: Duluth Library  Join us to learn about the traditional Lunar New Year celebration around the world. Create your own lion dance puppet, miniature origami and rattle drum wishing for good luck to celebrate the year of the dragon! Supplies will be provided.

Saturday, Feb 10, 12-4pm City of Johns Creek Lunar New Year Celebration, sponsored by Dezhu US Group, at Heisman Field across from Atlanta Athletic Club on Medlock Bridge Rd. Celebrate with cultural performances, traditional food, local vendors, and kids’ activities at  inside the park. The Shaolin Institute will perform the Dragon Dance at 12 pm. 

See full performance schedule HERE

Sat & Sun, Feb 10,11,17,19,24 & 25 : Stone Mountain Park’s Lunar New Year Festival on the Great Lawn.
Experience the largest Lunar New Year Festival in the southeast at Stone Mountain Park! This brand new festival features hundreds of lanterns lighting up the night sky, lion & dragon parades, cultural craft activities, storytelling, puppetry, dance & drum exhibitions, plus a Drone and Light Show!  Purchase tickets HERE

Feb 10 & 11, 10AM-4PM:  Atlanta Luna New Year Festival in Chamblee
Usher in the Year of the Dragon with joy and excitement! We are thrilled to announce the grand celebration of the 2024 Lunar New Year Festival, a time-honored tradition, enriched by the cultural experiences of delicious food and vibrant performances. Unforgettable fun time and memories will be a sure thing!

4. EAT: Some  Dim Sum!

  • Not familar? You are missing a real treat! Dim Sum is comprised of countless small plates of dumplings, rolls, buns and soups plus more traditional items like General Tso and  Sweet and Sour, served from carts that constantly pass by your table. You probably won't recognize some of the dishes but the person driving the cart will do their best to describe them to you. There are so many terrific Chinese restaurants close to us, so get out of your comfort zone and try something new for a fun, family meal you kids will love! Try any of the following:  
    Oriental Pearl, 5399 New Peachtree Rd., Chamblee. (My family's favorite!)
    Golden House now Won Won Seafood Restaurant, 1600 Pleasant Hill Rd, Duluth.
    Canton House, 4825 Buford Hwy., Chamblee. A local favorite with authentic flavors.
    Royal China, 3295 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd. Chamblee. A mainstay in dim sum, this place has the widest selection.

5. READ: Stories About Chinese Culture

  • Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thongs
    This book for toddlers and preschoolers was a family favorite when my boys were little. From round rice bowls to square dim sum, it introduces children to a variety of objects that are significant in Chinese culture.
  • Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin
    Another book that is just right for very young children, this one celebrates a cultural custom and a universal favorite activity ... eating!
  • Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
    A re-telling of an ancient Chinese folktale about a boy with a very long name (Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo!) who fell down a well.
  • Celebrating Chinese New Year by Carolyn Otto
    Part of the Holidays Around the World series, the book engages school-age children with fun facts and beautiful pictures. Additional books, videos, and websites are also provided.
  • Crouching Tiger by Ying Chang Compestine
    School-age children will enjoy this story about a Chinese-American boy and his relationship with his grandfather who has come from China to visit.

6. WATCH: A Family Movie

  • Mulan (G)
    When the emperor of China calls for all families to defend the country against barbarian invaders, a courageous Mulan disguises herself as a male soldier to preclude her aging father from having to fight in the war.
  • The Karate Kid (PG)
    Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith star in this modern update of the movie we fell in love with back in the '80s (remember swooning over Ralph Macchio?).
  • Kung Fu Panda (PG)
    With characters voiced by Jack Black (Po), Dustin Hoffman (Master Shifu), Angelina Jolie (Tigress), Jackie Chan (Monkey), and Seth Rogen (Mantis), this 2008 animated movie from Dreamworks was a huge hit with kids and adults alike! You can even make it a movie marathon with Kung Fu Panda 2 and 3!
  • The Dragon Pearl (PG) (My family's favorite!)
    Josh (Louis Corbett) and Ling (Li Lin Jin) thought they were in for a boring vacation with each of their parents (Sam Neill and Wang Ji) at an archaeological dig in China. It turns into an adventure of a lifetime when they discover a mournful dragon trapped deep inside a mystical temple. According to ancient legend, the dragon is missing its life force, a sacred pearl that is hidden away in a secret chamber. Josh and Ling must battle evil forces (and some very skeptical parents) in their heart-stopping journey to return the magical pearl to its rightful owner. 
  • Life of Pi (PG)
    This is a beautiful coming-of-age story directed by Ang Lee and based on the novel by Yann Martel. It received eleven Academy Award nominations and won the categories of Director, Cinematography, Score, and Visual Effects.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (PG-13)
    This martial arts spectacular featuring incredible action sequences and special effects earned ten Academy Award nominations and won the categories of Score, Cinematography, Art Direction, and Foreign Language Film.
  • The Last Emperor (PG-13) (Also another favorite for tweens & teens)
    Winner of nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography, this epic film tells the true story of Pu Yi, the last imperial ruler of China.

7. COOK: Chinese Dishes

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Kids will love creating their own lettuce wraps in this fun, hands-on dinner idea. If you're not a fan of lettuce, you can use whole-wheat tortillas for your wrap instead. Get the recipe HERE.

DIY Chinese Dumplings
Dumplings, called jiaozi in Mandarin, have been popular in China for hundreds of years, especially during Chinese New Year. What better way to celebrate than to make your own dumplings! The recipe below is for a traditional pork and chive filling, but the great thing about dumplings is that you can make all sorts of different fillings.
 Get the recipe HERE.

Egg Drop Soup
Whip up a pot of this delicious soup using just four ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. Get the recipe HERE.

Fortune Cookies
Remind the ones you love how special they are when YOU make the fortune in these homemade cookies. Get the recipe HERE.

New Year Tray of Prosperity
Share a special six-sided platter filled with dried fruits, nuts, and other foods to bring in a lucky year. Get the instructions HERE.

8. PLAY: Fun Crafts and Games

Chinese New Year Gong
Literally, ring in the Chinese New Year with a make-at-home gong. Get the instructions HERE.

The New Year Game of Jianzi
During the Chinese New Year holiday, children enjoy all kinds of games, including a game of shuttlecock called jianzi, which can be played by any number of people. Get the instructions HERE.

The Red Envelope
Red is the color of good luck and happiness in Chinese tradition and a monetary gift given in a red envelope is believed to be "lucky money" for the recipient. Get the instructions HERE.

Learn more about Chinese New Year: at or

Learn about other fun, family holidays and events this month HERE.

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