The Willow Room Celebrates the Year of the Rabbit
Brooke Hassman, Willow Room Head Teacher at 45th Street
Lunar New Year is a fifteen-day cultural celebration celebrated all around the world. Its start date is determined by the lunar calendar, and this year, it is observed from January 22 through February 5. Some Asian countries designate the first day of Lunar New Year to be a federal holiday, including China, Korea, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia. According to the Chinese zodiac (a repeating twelve-year cycle in which each year is represented by a different animal), 2023 concludes the Year of the Tiger and marks the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit.
As part of their yearlong exploration of world cultures, the Willow Room 4th grade students learned about Lunar New Year through watching informative videos and participating in spirited discussions about some of the unique aspects surrounding the holiday. They learned about traditions and customs such as wearing red (a symbol of good luck), hanging banners with messages about good luck and fortune written on them, lighting firecrackers to scare away evil spirits, and attending exhilarating performances by lion dancers and dragon dancers. The students also joined in the tradition of making their own wishes for the new year!
The Willow Room recently started a unit on poetry for Language Arts and were introduced to acrostic poems – poems in which the first letter of each line spells out the theme of the poem when read vertically. To create acrostic poems about Lunar New Year, students brainstormed adjectives and short phrases that described the holiday. Then, students set up their acrostic poems by writing out the words “NEW YEAR” vertically. They considered everything they learned about Lunar New Year and the ideas that they brainstormed to fill in each line. Students read their acrostic poems aloud to the group and reveled in the beauty of their words. One of the students came up with this line, which sums up the spirit of collaboration and positive attitudes that the Willow Room students possess: When we are together, anything is possible.