Monday, December 2, 2013

Chinese New Year: The Year of the Horse

Ivan and the Chestnut Horse
Edmund Dulac, 1919
The Chinese New Year is celebrated on January 31, 2014. This year they honor the Year of the Horse.
 “The spirit of the horse is recognized to be the Chinese people's ethos – making unremitting efforts to improve themselves. It is energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able. Ancient people liked to designate an able person as 'Qianli Ma', a horse that covers a thousand li a day (one li equals 500 meters).

~ Each day of the fifteen-day celebration has its own traditions, such as visiting in-laws or staying home to welcome good fortune.
~ Fireworks displays during Chinese New Year stem from a custom of lighting bamboo stalks on fire to ward off evil spirits.
~ In China, families gather together for meals, especially for a feast on New Year's Eve.
~ The Chinese New Year ends with the Lantern Festival, celebrated at night with displays and parades of painted lanterns.
~ The highlight of the Lantern Festival is the Dragon Dance. Beautiful dragons made of paper, silk and bamboo are held overhead, and appear to dance as they make their way along the parade routes.

~ In China, the public holiday lasts three days, but celebrations take place over the entire 15 day period.
  • Horses were domesticated by humans about 3500 B.C.
  • Horses can sleep standing up.
  • Horses can’t burp.
  • Horses can live to over 30 years old.
  • A horse’s age can be determined by his teeth.
  • Horses are herbivores.
  • Arabian horses have one less vertebrae than other horses.

The above information was found at the following sites:


A small sampling of stories to help you gallop into the New Year.

Horse Cursed by the Sun – South Africa

Ivan and the Chestnut Horse - Russian
The Black Horse - Ireland

The Dun Horse – Russia

The Ebony Horse – Persia

The Enchanted Horse – Persia

The Flaming Horse: The Story of a Country Where the Sun Never Shines -Czechoslovak Folktale

The Fox and the Horse – Grimm/Germany

The Girl With the Horse’s Head - China

The Ghost Stallion - Yinnuwok/Native American

The Horse’s Revenge

The Kelpie of Loch Garve - Scotland

The Magic Horse – Iran

The Mosquito and the Horse - Estonia

The Princess and the Glass Mountain – Czechoslovakia

The Swift Blue One – Native American

The Tale of the Wind Horse – Choctaw/Native American

White Horse – Manitoba Ghost Story from the Cree Tribe

Horse Cursed by the Sun – South Africa Dragons - Mythical, Mystical, Magical Creatures! – Here is a previous blog post filled with dragon tails, curriculum, crafts and more to augment your Chinese New Year celebration.

Below are two previous blog posts I wrote for The Year of the Tiger and the Year of the Rat. You will find useful background information to augment your Chinese New Year programs.

Year of the Tiger

Gung Hay Fat Choy


Horses: Myths, Legends, Folktales and Ancient Stories by Pat Perrin
“These horse stories have been collected from great storytellers and edited to replace obsolete words, simplify sentences, and clarify meaning--16 fabulous tales, 4 extra spreads, and 16 charming illustrations.

Apples4theTeacher -  Recommended books for the Chinese New Year.


About.Com – Clothespin Horse Craft

About. Com: Pinecone Pony

Danielle’s Place

DLTK’s Craft for Kids – Toilet Paper Roll Horse

Kidspot – Hobby Horse

First – Chinese Paper Lantern

First – Chinese Dragon Mask


Horse Lesson Plan Ideas for Pre-K Teachers

 PBS -  Creating the Perfect Horse – Grades 9 – 12
“Students use a problem-based approach to explore the possibility that the qualities of different horse breeds — strength, speed, agility, stamina, beauty, intelligence, disposition — could be incorporated to create the “perfect horse…”

The Year of the Horse – A number of lesson plans from The American International School of Monrovia, Liberia.


Horse Quotations and What They May Mean

MUSIC Cute song and fingerplay for the Chinese New Year.

Karen Chace 2013 ©

This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.


Carolyn Stearns said...

My kind of year, I think I shall plan a Year of the Horse celebration at after school thanks to you it is simple!

Karen Chace said...

Thanks Carolyn. I know anything you offer to your students will be amazing!

Happy New Year my friend.