February is the month of the Chinese New Year. Celebrations among the New Zealand Chinese community will be many and varied, but the one thing all of them will have in common is lanterns.
These beautiful constructions of silk, paper and wood are an integral part of Chinese custom, so much so that they have their own festival – the Auckland Lantern Festival – each February in Albert Park.
A Cultural Experience
Making a set of Chinese paper lanterns is an easy way to get your kids into the spirit of the Chinese New Year and expose them to one of the world’s richest cultures.
What You’ll Need
Chinese paper lanterns are decorative only and do not contain a light source, so they are easy to make and require very little in the way of materials. You’ll need:
- Brightly coloured craft paper.
- Paper glue.
Making Your Chinese Lantern
1/ Cut out a rectangle of coloured craft paper approximately 20 cm by 30 cm.
2/ Fold the paper in half lengthwise.
3/ Mark a guideline 3 cm in, along the long edge of your paper, opposite the fold.
4/ Using scissors, make a series of horizontal cuts from the fold to your guideline. These cuts should be about 2 cm apart and should start about 4 cm in from the short sides of your paper rectangle.
5/ Unfold your paper and glue the short sides of the rectangle together.
6/ Cut a thin strip of paper about 10 cm long and glue each end of this to opposite sides of the top of your lantern to form a handle.
7/ Repeat the above steps using different coloured paper until you have about five or six lanterns. Pass a length of string through their handles and hang wherever you wish to display your Chinese paper lanterns.
For a demonstration of how to make a Chinese paper lantern watch this video.